Use your job to lend a helping hand

When I buy my next computer, my current PC is going to a charity. Please keep my good example in mind the next time your company needs to ditch some of its aging technology.

There are many organizations out there that refurbish surplus office technology and pass it on to community groups, schools and individuals. These donations drive educational initiatives, employment programs and retraining efforts.

In addition to assisting individuals, these groups are also strengthening the Canadian economy by helping some of society’s have-nots participate in a tech revolution that may otherwise pass them by.

One such charity is Computers for Schools ( Sponsored by the federal government in conjunction with the Telephone Pioneers, an international volunteer organization, Computers for Schools has thus far funnelled 206,677 computers to schools and public libraries nationwide.

Computers for Schools accepts working PCs, 486s or better, and a range of Macs. They also welcome keyboards, monitors, printers, etc. Non-functional equipment is also accepted, but obviously operational technology is preferred.

Corporate sponsors include Microsoft Canada, which donates Windows and DOS for those units requiring them; Canadian National, which helps transport equipment across Canada; and Sears, which helps out with promotion and transport.

Pick-up can be arranged for large donations, such as those that could be made by ComputerWorld Canada readers, and up to three units can also be dropped off directly at Sears stores and catalogue outlets.

And if you don’t have any unused equipment lying around, you can give time. The charity is always looking for technically-oriented people to refurbish, clean and deliver donated equipment.

Computers for Schools is by no means the only worthwhile charity collecting older computers. Look around – they’re everywhere.

And the benefits are not only apparent on a personal level; donating computers can help the Canadian economy by encouraging more of our citizens to become computer savvy.

This is important because most Canadians are not Internet users, and are therefore missing the e-everything revolution.

ACNeilsen Corp. found that only 38 per cent of us are on-line. While the research firm puts Canada at the head of the worldwide Internet class, citing our mature economy, excellent telecommunications structure and supportive government environment, six out of 10 Canadians are still missing out.

While there are certainly other factors keeping individuals off the Internet, simply not having access to equipment must rank high as a deterrent. ACNeilsen found, for example, that Internet users tend to be from the management and white collar strata of society. No surprise there: they can afford the computers and ISP charges.

So if you have ever had trouble finding a competent prospective employee, take action. Donating a PC or some time will increase Canada’s tech-savvy population, and some of those people may someday work for you.