A local program that takes used computers, refurbishes them and then donates them to families in need is still going strong thanks to the efforts of the couple who started the program; a former member of the armed forces turned computer technician and a generous donor who gave the couple $10,000 after first reading about their initiative in the Orléans Star last year.
Paul and Nancy Begin came up with the concept to refurbish computers and give them away in 2019 as a way to reduce the number of computers ending up in landfill.
|(L to r) Nancy Begin, Paul Begin and Charlie Cox. STAFF PHOTO
People would donate computers destined for the landfill to them and the couple would replace the screen, keyboard, or whatever else needed to be fixed, and gift them to people within the community who reached out to them via community groups on Facebook like Orléans Buy Nothing and Being Neighbourly Orléans.
During the first year of the pandemic, they refurbished nearly 400 laptops and desktop computers and gave them to families who needed them mostly to allow their children to attend their classes on-line. Last year, they refurbished and gave away more than 500 computers, many of them with webcams and speakers which were paid for thanks to the generous donation from a former Orléans resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
The donation allowed the Begins to provide the extra web tools needed by the people who were ultimately getting the refurbished computers. A lot of the money was used to purchase new batteries – their biggest cost.
According to Paul, it costs about $80 to refurbish a desk top computer and $35-$50 to refurbish a laptop.
Besides the donation, the Begins have also benefited from the addition of Charlie Cox, who has taken over the actual refurbishing side of the program.
Cox was doing something similar to what the Begins were doing but on a much smaller scale. When he read the Orléans Star article in 2020, he reached out to the couple to see if he could help them in any way. At first, they helped Charlie by giving him parts he was having a hard time trying to find. Over time, they simply joined forces with Charlie doing most of the refurbishing, Paul handling the finances and Nancy handling the social media side of things and finding homes for the computers.
More recently, they’ve had to find a new sponsor as the last of the funds given to them by the private donor have been spent. Fortunately, the BrokerLink office in Orléans has offered to provide them with a limited sponsorship to help make ends meet.
In the meantime, the couple plans to launch a GoFundMe campaign in the next couple of days to allow individuals to donate to the cause.
One hundred per cent of all the money donated goes to refurbishing the computers. Paul and Nancy don’t take a dime.
Individuals who want to donate their unwanted computers and laptops can do so by e-mailing email@example.com. They will also take any monitors and keyboards you’re looking to get rid of. Individuals and families who need a computer can contact the couple through the same email address.