March 4, 2011

Got an old laptop? Give it to a special needs child!

Bertrand plays with his iPad for the first time, last year.

Our friends over at Marissa's Bunny recently started a foundation to provide assistive technology to special needs kids. The nature of this non-profit was inspired in part by the revolution sparked by the iPad in the special needs community. While not covered by most medical insurance companies, the iPad has provided new, low-cost possibilities for communication, therapy and entertainment to special needs children like Bertrand.

Bertrand was lucky to get his iPad--which he loves--within weeks of the initial launch, but other kids aren't as lucky. In fact, many special needs families spend so much money on therapy, medication, co-pays, nursing, etc. that there is tough time putting food on the table! There isn't a computer in the household, much less an iPad.

So, please read Marissa's Dad's plea below for your old computers. It's a great cause and a great way to get a jump on spring cleaning! Realistically, you aren't going to fix that old laptop anyway and your wife will thank you for the extra closet/basement space! ;)
...First of all, the special needs iPad giveaway isn’t closed, just the xBox/PS3 one. We’re going to keep collecting application letters until about the 18th of March. When you write your letters, think about what kind of info you’d want if you were doing this giveaway. Please, please tell your friends, your co-bloggers, your acquaintances. Anybody who has to deal with the challenges of special needs living- please tell them to share with me their story and why they need an iPad for therapy and/or care. What are the odds of you getting one? I really can’t say- we do have a review process, and (at this time) the top 40 candidates are being submitted to my management. They’ll decide the top 20. Of course, if the fundraiser keeps escalating, there’ll be more to give.

Along the way, we’ve stumbled into a bit of a dilemma. Step one in the ipad activation process is “hook the iPad up to a computer with iTunes installed.” Given the nature of the iPad, there tends to be a fair amount of private information shuffled back and forth from the computer to the iPad over time. This pretty much necessitates regular, secure use of a computer. A nonzero number of entrants don’t have a computer for whatever the reason, and will need one to fully utilize the iPad.

We’re not fully running yet, but I’ve spoken with the lawyers, and we can do something. We can take your old technology (to a point), repair and clean it up, and give it away as well. Here’s what we ask:

- Email us, tell us what you’ve got. We’ll give you an estimate of what it’s worth and what we’ll put on your charitable donation form, if you require one.
- If Windows compatible, please be newer than 4 years old
- If Macintosh, please be 1 gigahertz G4 or faster. No liquid cooled machines, please!
- Doesn’t have to be functional, but shouldn’t be trash.
- Totally reformat the drive. No OS, no nothing. If you need secure deletion, we can do this for you. Another option is you removing the hard drive yourself.

You’ll have to pick up shipping to us (for now), but we’ll consider this in the tax receipt. We’re local to Washington DC, so if you’re close, we can work something out to save everybody on shipping. We will either evaluate what’s sent and fix what’s broken ourselves, or contract this out. When the equipment is evaluated in person in our workshop/basement, we’ll issue the tax deductible receipt for the hardware. We’ll make our best guess on receipt value on your initial email, but the actual value you receive will vary depending on arriving condition. The more functional the state it arrives in, the higher the value on the receipt.

We’ll take lots of things. Old iPods. CPUs. Laptops. Parts. LCDs. First generation iPads if you’re going to upgrade to a 2nd generation unit. This is not an all-inclusive list. The more something costs to repair to operational status, the smaller your receipt for tax deductions will be. We won’t take CRTs or printers. Again,
shoot us an email with any and all questions. I know it’s arduous for machines to be only X old and not X+1 old, but we can’t afford to take machines that will make life harder for the recipients, not easier.

I’ll be honest. We won’t be able to fix everything, but unfixable machines can still be a source of valuable repair parts. There’s no reason we can’t clean out our collective closets at the same time as helping those in need!

If you’re reading this, you’re a special needs parent yourself and/or you have a closet of tech clutter. Let’s spread this out a bit!

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