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Brotherly Love: Team Children Closes Digital Divide

(credit: CBS) Ukee Washington
Ukee Washington anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on CBS 3 and...
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By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In a world that seems to be full of cell phones and iPads, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has a computer. But one Chester County charity is eager to change that.

Veronica Haynes is shopping to replace her broken computer for her seven-year-old daughter Saniyah.

“It’s nice!” Veronica says. “I didn’t expect to come here and see a warehouse of computers.”

For thousands of people, computers are out of reach.

“They lose their job and they can’t afford a new computer. Their computer breaks and they can’t afford to fix it,” explains Robert Toporek of Team Children.

Volunteers such as Justin Spedding take old computers and update the electronics inside.

“So I took out an old hard drive that was old and slow and small, and I’m going to put in this much newer hard drive here,” Justin explains.

Once that’s done, he installs updated software, including educational software. Then the computers are sold at a steep discount, from $60 to $175. All buyers have to do is pay the fee and write a letter about their situation.

“Then we sit and teach people how to use a computer and how to use the software,” Toporek says.

“Originally, I just wanted a lot of experience, but I also wanted to help people — you know the digital divide is a very major problem,” Justin says.

Toporek says the small investment has big results. “We have one kid who’s in medical school that we know about. He started with a $50 Apple computer,” he says.

An estimated 11,000 computers have come through Team Children and back out to homes and charter schools.

“I can’t tell you how many kids have gone to college with computers from Team Children and gotten through high school,” Toporek says.

And Veronica knows Saniyah will use it. “I can’t get her off of it,” she laughs. “She’s a computer geek, she loves computers.”

If you’d like to contact Team Children, call (610) 666-1795. The organization says it’s eager for certain types of computers, monitors, and hard drives, especially laptops.

For more information, visit: www.TeamChildren.com

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