The pandemic has forced many to connect, work and learn online, but not everyone has access to a computer.
A new partnership is helping to bring gently used electronics to the hands of non-profits and individuals in need.
“We've definitely seen almost a two-fold increase in the demand for donations,” said Andrew Weslowski, the director of operations with the Electronics Recycling Association.
At ERA’s Richmond warehouse, workers are busy packing up old techs to be shipped to a hub in Calgary, where the team will wipe the data from computers or destroy harddrives containing sensitive information before they go to more appreciative hands.
“A lot of equipment that is current and reusable will be basically refurbished by us and then reprogrammed and then put into the hands of someone that really needs it,” Weslowski said.
ERA recently teamed up with Ruckify, an online rental company founded in Canada.
“We’re helping people and we’re helping the environment,” said Ruckify founder Steve Cody. “For something in your drawer collecting dust, just by simply donating it, to have that kind of impact is huge.”
According to ERA, there are 1,104 desktops and 4,108 laptops that have been requested by non-profits across Canada. There are also 1,548 people looking to borrow laptops.
The South Vancouver Neighbourhood House is one of the organizations looking for printers and laptops.
Michelle Lui oversees the pre-teen program, which has mostly moved online.
“It's much easier to be connected if you have access to the internet, stable Wi-Fi and a laptop because so many of our activities right now are able to be more inclusive through having a computer,” Lui said.
There are in-person activities as well, but due to capacity limits, they aren’t as frequent or accessible.
There’s currently a waitlist of up to 30 youths who are seeking a gently used laptop.
“They use it to complete schoolwork, to hand in assignments. And if they want to look for a job, they need to print out resumes, send emails out or apply online. So just for them to be connected to the neighborhood and still be thriving under this time,” Lui said.
A list of BC-based charities seeking electronics can be found here.