Refurbished computers are best when they are newer

Do you have a computer or two or more in your basement? Did you know that there are people who need computers and places that will refurbish your computers and distribute them to the people in need? (PCs for People!)

I was reminded to give this public service announcement in two ways. First it’s summer and I just gave my kids their to-do lists. Second I just got an update on the PCS for People distribution program in the Resilient Region. They successfully distributed computers to 110 families across 5 counties. But they had an observation on the need in the community for newer computers…

We are still seeing a lack of quality computers come through our donation cycles.  On the average about 20% of the donations we receive can be refurbished. Out of the 450 donations received in 2016 about 90 are computers we can work with.  This is a huge limitation for us and for the families we distribute to.  We firmly believe that poor people do not need poor computers. Cell phones have limited abilities but often are better option for those in poverty.  Our hope is that we have “collected” enough computers from basements and corporate storage rooms that waited for years for strong young bodies to haul them away for free and we can now access quality to share with the families we serve.

As of December Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 and we spent time with new systems and now install Microsoft Windows 10.  Many of our refurbished computers are now out of date and too old for current updates.  As we grow the project we now must be more specific regarding our donation policy.  Additionally, we have begun to ask for a free will donation to help offset the recycling fee we now need to pay to certified recyclers.

Systematically they may have some plans in the works – but from the outside I think what we potential donors can do – don’t put off to tomorrow the computer donation someone can use today.

It may be worth noting if you are in or around the Resilient Region – they have Windows 7 computers available for sale. These desktops work well and would be a great addition to families – $10 to $20 to eligible low income families or individuals.

This entry was posted in BCBP, Blandin Foundation, Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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