'TeamChildren' Refurbishing Computers To Help Those In Need - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

'TeamChildren' Refurbishing Computers To Help Those In Need

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AUDUBON, Pa. -

Inside an old factory in Audubon, PA, we found a 21st century version of Santa's workshop.

Volunteers, young and old, refurbishing computers to be sold at a deep discount-- as little as $60-- to those in need.

The man in charge, Robert Toporek, says the goal is to get this gear into the hands of children before they fall behind their better-equipped classmates.

"If we could demonstrate that you could use computers to begin to prevent the achievement gap rather than solve it," said Toporek to our Bruce Gordon. "That would be a really powerful thing. It's helping them do their homework on time. It's helping them do research. It's helping them find scholarships for schools. It's helping them fill out college applications."

The "digital divide" in this country is very real. A 2011 U.S. Census report showed 96% of families with an annual household income above $100,000 had a computer at home. For families with an income below $50,000, only two-thirds had a home computer.

"TeamChildren" receives its desktops and laptops free of charge. They're donated by businesses, school districts and individuals.

17 year old volunteer Daniel Berger, he's the Mac expert around here, says most of the donated gear has minor problems that are easily fixed.

"Even cosmetics," he says. "We're able to replace a face on a computer if something doesn't look good. And we can really turn it into something that someone's proud to own again."

Tom Harmaty is 59-years old and unemployed, so he volunteered while looking for a paying job. He calls himself an inveterate "tinkerer."

"On the holidays, when I got a present at Christmas," he says. "I'd read the instruction manual first and then take things apart."

Now he spends 3-5 hours a week fixing computers that will help kids learn.

"At the end, I see a smile on someone's face. And you know you did something good," reflects Harmaty.

All of the computers sold by "TeamChildren" come with free educational software.

For more information on the program, call 610-666-1795.

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