The Masonic Angel Foundation placed its 1000th Laptops for KidZ computer at Nauset Regional Middle School Monday morning. 234 students in the Nauset region have received laptops from the Masons since May 2010.
Nauset superintendent Dr. Richard Hoffmann joined middle school Principal Dr. Maxine Minkoff for the presentation of Laptop #1000. Dr. Hoffmann invited students in Mr. Edward Pavlu’s mathematics class to participate in the landmark event.
Nauset Regional Middle School has worked with the Masonic Angel Fund for over fifteen years to get assistance for children in need who might otherwise fall through the cracks in the social service system. Laptops for KidZ fills one of those gaps, since a child without a home computer is at an enormous competitive disadvantage in school today. LFK helps to level the playing field for such students.
Evolved beyond imagination
The Laptops for KidZ project was born in March 2010 as the “Great Recession” raged around Cape Cod families. One of the Masons mentioned that a business colleague’s first grader was being assigned homework that had to be completed online. “What happens to the kids who don’t have a computer at home? If someone can’t buy food, how are they going to afford a computer?” he asked. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now in their fifth school year of operation, Laptops for KidZ volunteers have seen the uses of their computers evolve beyond what anyone imagined. “From kids doing routine homework assignments, to students doing advanced videography, to an elementary school student designing a “literary magazine”, to special needs students whose laptop is literally their means of communication – the success stories are so moving,” reports MAF President Robert Fellows. “We never know the children’s identities but the success stories filter back to us through the schools. Laptops for KidZ computers are being used in ways we never imagined back in 2010.”
Laptops for KidZ volunteer project director Mario Meré, of Yarmouth Port, credits the program’s volunteers with its success. LFK has no paid staff. Instead, a team of volunteer technicians and couriers handle all aspects of Laptops for KidZ.
Benjamin Richardson of South Dennis is a retired electrician and volunteer “chief technician” for LFK. According to Mr. Meré, “Ben personally refurbished at least 75% of these machines. He also processed many computers that didn’t meet minimum specifications, dismantling them and recycling many of their components.”
Other volunteers arrange for donations of laptops and handle the transportation of large blocks of machines they receive. “We have a devoted corps of retirees, business professionals and even college students driving computers around Southeastern Massachusetts – in-bound to have the machines refurbished and then out-bound to deliver laptops to their school destinations.”
Donors to Laptops for KidZ range from individual citizens donating a surplus laptop to corporations that donate dozens of machines at a time. “Every single donation is needed. We have a deep waiting list of children who need these machines,” reports Mr. Fellows. Donations to the 501(c)(3) Masonic Angel Foundation are tax deductible.
The cost to refurbish a laptop – typically about $15 – is covered by the Masonic Angel Fund chapter serving the school where the machine is placed.
With a fair market value that hovers around $300, the Masons have donated over $300,000 in product to schools across the Cape and Southeastern Massachusetts.
Microsoft, Comcast help
Laptops for KidZ is a non-profit member of the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program, which enables the Masons to obtain Windows licenses at a most favorable price. “LFK would not exist without Microsoft’s generosity,” according to Mario Meré, who also serves as the Board Secretary for the Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc. “Microsoft has been right behind us since Day One.”
Comcast’s’ Internet Essentials program is another cornerstone of the project, with many low-income LFK recipients qualified to receive Comcast’s $9.95/month broadband access service.
“This means so much…”
“This means so much to a student whose family cannot afford to purchase a computer,” said Superintendent Hoffmann.
“While the general perception may be that every family has a computer at home, the reality is that many families do not and in those households students are missing out on some extended learning opportunities that computers offer,” Dr. Hoffmann added.
"The Nauset Regional School District has embarked on an extensive effort to expand access to new technology in the Middle School and High School but the power of computers also lies in the easy access to information they provide students during times they are not in school."
Dr. Hoffmann said he was extremely grateful to the Masonic Angel Foundation for helping to level the playing field for financially challenged families. “In many ways computers are the new chalk for teachers and the new pencil and encyclopedia for students. When a child can use a computer at home to review and build on what they’ve learned in school, they have a much better chance of success in our classrooms,” he said.
Donate Your Laptop
Laptops for KidZ accepts donations of Windows laptops. LFK also accepts select Windows desktops but does not accept Apple products.
Computers are placed with local schools upon requests from school staff. The Masons do not accept end-user requests for laptops.
For more information about the Laptops for KidZ program visit www.laptopsforkidZ.org.
Below is a larger photo of a few of the Nauset students who received the latest Masonic gifts.
(Students in Edward Pavlu’s mathematics class at Nauset Middle School join Superintendent Richard Hoffmann and Principal Maxine Minkoff in accepting the 1000th Laptops for KidZ computer. Laptop #1000 was placed at the school Monday by the Masonic Angel Foundation. MAF photo.)