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September 18th, 2009 by Terry Miller
When Fidel Schery told his two sons last week that they had won our first essay contest, they thought he was kidding. And when he went on to say that they had each won a computer and monitor to keep as their own, Schery said that was when they “knew” he was lying.
“When we got the call, we were completely shocked” said Schery. Until now, the Monrovia resident said that his son’s access to a computer was limited to whenever they were able to visit the public library, mostly on the weekends.
The two Clifton Middle School students said that they both enjoy studying math and science, though Joshua said of the two subjects that he prefers mathematics the most. Each one also plays games, especially chess.
“Our Dad taught us how to play chess; he is a very good chess player,” said David.
So it was much to their delight when they quickly discovered that the game of kings was one of the programs preinstalled on their new computers.
The boys’ enthusiasm for their new tools of learning and discovery was contagious at the Beacon Media offices that day. The two said that actually having one computer of their very own was a little overwhelming, and couldn’t give enough thanks.
The Giveaway is part of a cooperative effort between Beacon Media and local computer store and service center, Priceless Computer. Not only is the program beneficial to area youth in need of things like word processing capability and internet access, but it’s good for the environment as well. Year after year, large organizations such as governments, hospitals and other large non-profits upgrade their entire network of computers, leaving the older versions by the wayside, and all too often in the landfill. Through the donated labor of computer technicians at Priceless Computer and the use of freely available, open source software like the Ubuntu Linux operating system (ubuntu.com), Mozilla Firefox web browser (mozilla.com/firefox), and the OpenOffice suite (openoffice.org) which offers the functionality of Microsoft Office free of charge, such computers that might otherwise go to waste are able to be put to use in our communities.
Beacon Media Editor John Stephens and Sultan Salahuddin, owner of Priceless Computer, devised the giveaway in response to the One Laptop Per Child project (olpc.org), which sought to produce a child friendly laptop for under $100 for distribution to developing countries in Africa and South America.
“Like any other geek on the street, I was excited by the prospect of a sub-$100 notebook,” said Stephens, whose one bedroom apartment could easily be mistaken for an e-waste collection facility. “But as I followed their progress, I started to have questions like, What about children in our own country and our local communities? Shouldn’t we focus on finding computers for them to use?”
“And what about e-waste; should these machines really be going into landfills if we can get them up and running all the applications necessary for everyday computing? All it takes is a little ingenuity and elbow grease, and people around this area have plenty of that.”
By John Stephens & Terry Miller
The Beacon Media/Priceless Computer Back to School Computer Giveaway is an ongoing project and is still accepting applications from area children in need of a digital upgrade. Students aged 8-18 can fill out the application and submit their essay online at any of the Beacon Media newspapers’ web sites, including arcadiaweekly.com, monroviaweekly.com, pasadenaindependent.com, sierramadreweekly.com and templecitytribune.com.