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April 24, 2020

IT nonprofit launches campaign to provide Mainers with needed technology

Courtesy / give IT. get IT. Waterville-based give IT. get IT. is ramping up its campaign to provide recycled technology to Mainers who need it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An organization that refurbishes donated computers and provides them at low or no cost to people who need them is stepping up its efforts to help Mainers who are offline during the pandemic.

Waterville-based give IT. get IT., a nonprofit formed last year out of a merger between PCs for Maine and eWaste Alternatives, is increasing its capacity to recycle retired technology from Maine businesses, refurbish it, and then distribute it to technologically isolated Mainers.

“We were planning to launch give IT. get IT. in March, before COVID-19 forced businesses of all sizes to completely alter their operations,” co-founder Chris Martin said in a news release. “With so many Mainers now facing isolation due to shelter in place mandates, the need for give IT. get IT.’s services has never been greater or more urgent."

PCs for Maine was formed in 2002 to provide computers and free technical support in Maine, and other parts of northern New England. The merger with eWaste Alternatives added the recycling function.

The pandemic has created more reliance on technology throughout the state, particularly for education and work, and the need  for computers in the home has increased. Of the estimated 70,000 Maine households that don't have access to the internet or a personal computer, half have students who need to participate in online classes. "This represents a significant threat to Maine’s future workforce and economy," the nonprofit said.

 About 130 companies in Maine have donated used equipment, including IDEXX Laboratories, Sappi and Bangor Savings Bank.

Mark Benton, director of product management at Systems Engineering, in Portland, said his company not only made use of give IT. get IT's services, but has also included it in its charitable giving.

When Systems Engineering wanted to enhance its e-waste handling procedures, give IT. get IT's combination of secure, and certified, recycling services, as well as the focus on reuse "checked all the boxes."

“Our charitable giving policy includes focus on rural and underserved student populations," Benton said in the release. "So this particular effort, to get computers in the hands of students at this time of need, aligns well from that perspective.”

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