CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV held its second Collect to Connect technology drive Tuesday. So far more than 300 computers were donated. The computers collected are still being counted.
WBTV partnered with E2D (Eliminate the Digital Divide) for this project. People gave laptops and iPads so students who don’t have a working computer inside the home could be able to get one.
“What resonated with me is that many of us have advantages,” Computer Donor Jim Forgey said. “Where we have extra computers that we are not using and yet there are people that are in desperate need of them. We just need to do it.”
E2D estimates there are about 16,000 families in Mecklenburg County that can’t afford a computer right now. Students are doing remote learning because of the pandemic.
Students do have a school-issued Chromebook but that computer is limited. People who donated say having a computer that can provide students total access to the digital world is needed.
“It’s huge,” Donor David Houston said. “They cannot do their work at all - particularly now everyone being schooled from home – that’s the only way you can access your classwork including college kids. So it’s very much important and a necessity.”
Some people came twice to donate a computer. Many said they didn’t know what to do with their computers that were just sitting in their homes.
“These are computers that our kids used back in college,” Computer Donor Ellen Lipson said. “And they’ve all upgraded quite a bit and they were just sitting there and so this way they can be used.”
E2D says there are about 3.2 people who live in a household so Tuesday’s collection means about 900 people will have access to a working computer inside their homes.
The computers will be able to give students access to college applications, scholarships, employment and parents will be able to find affordable housing and do online banking.
“I just think that the kids need every advantage they can get,” Forgey said. “To get a good education and if this is going to help them and I can contribute - then I am going to do that.”
The last time WBTV did Collect to Connect in December, more than 750 computers collected with the help of two companies.
When you combine both technology drives - more than 1,000 computers were collected to help close the technology gap.
“We have grandchildren,” Computer Donor Maria Stidham said. “Some are learning from home and it really touched my heart - there are a lot of children that don’t have that capability - so I said at least we can make a donation in this effort.”
Computers collected in December are already being distributed to students in need. E2D partners with Charlotte Mecklenburg School District and other organizations that work with students and families in need to help identify students without a computer.
Computers collected Tuesday will be processed, cleared of all private data, and could be ready for distribution as early as the end of February.