By Janelle Burrell

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some laptops in Philadelphia became precious gifts to families beyond our borders. It was thanks to the efforts of some people spreading brotherly love.

Inside his Northern Liberties home, Hai Thai is a fix-it man. During the pandemic, he started hearing about the so-called homework gap, children who lacked a computer. Some were connecting to school via their smartphones.

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“I fixed laptops and computers way back in one of my first jobs, I guess. I thought, why not help the children out?” Hai said.

He named his project TechCycle.

“It’s designed to help minimize the digital divide gap, especially for children,” Hai said.

Laptops started coming to him through word of mouth. So far he has fixed more than a dozen of them and given them to families in places like Kensington and Fishtown.

Then the mission went further.

His friend, Mary Grace Gardner, sponsors two Guatemalan children.

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“I know they needed a laptop, and I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen. All of a sudden, Hai created this project,” she said. “He took the laptops and started rehabbing, and I said, ‘Hey, can I have two?'”

So this spring, Grace took the laptops to Guatemala. She donated one to a family she knew through her fair-trade business. The other went to a brother and sister, eighth-grader Graciela and ninth-grader Dale.

“They actually called me personally as well and kind of talked a little bit,” Hai said.

Grace said, “It’s such an opening of a door for the future for these kids.”

Hai and Grace also raised about $2,500 for the families through a GoFundMe.

Hai said it usually costs him about $50 to $100 out of pocket to refurbish a computer. He hopes to hold another GoFundMe so he can keep fixing laptops.

Hai said, “This might potentially change someone’s life, and I think that’s really motivating me.”

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To connect with Hai, email him at Project TechCycle projecttechcycle@gmail.com.

Janelle Burrell