Jay Gunderson, owner of KIS Computers in Minot, said the company’s Computers for Kids suspended after 2005, having largely met the area’s need. It had started in 2004.
Gunderson now anticipates new needs and is working with Shaine Zillmer and Kale Hedberg, also of KIS Computers, to revive the program.
“I want to give out 1,000 computers this year. That’s a goal,” Gunderson said. He hopes to be distributing the first computers in July.
The program took in nearly 2,900 donated computers in its first round.
In its second round, the program won’t be taking printers or Apple computers but will take any Windows-operated computer. Because of the needs of the children being served, the program takes only monitors that are 17 inches or larger and particularly seeks laptops for children with mobility issues.
Refurbished computers for kids will be Internet capable. The program also is accepting donated children’s software to provide to recipients.
Gunderson said although the program will accept any computer, not all will be suitable for refurbishing or may only be valuable for certain parts. KIS Computers plans to sell metals in leftover computers for salvage to help financially support the program.
Gunderson said the program paid off last time in intangible rewards, such as the child who spoke a word for the first time after getting a computer. He also recalls the appreciation of the families.
“One of the mothers looked at me and said, ‘You are doing exactly what medical science could never do. You are putting a smile on a child’s face,’” he said.
KIS Computers received the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Above and Beyond award in July 2004.
But this time around, KIS Computers is looking for more community support. In addition to time spent in refurbishing computers last time, Gunderson personally bore most of the expenses of travel, storage and purchases when computer parts were needed.
KIS Computers has set up an account under its name at First Western Bank to accept donations to defray expenses. All donations are strictly for the program for kids, Gunderson said.
“None of it goes to us,” he said of the business and its partners.
KIS Computers, which provides computer technical services, is home-based so it is looking for assistance both with storage space and from businesses willing to serve as drop-off points for donated computers.
Currently, Minot residents who have computers to donate can contact Zillmer at 837-1695 for pickup. KIS Computers wipes out any hard-drive data as the first step in refurbishing or disassembling a computer. Serial numbers are recorded for police access in event a donated computer at one time had been stolen.
Any questions about computer donations or any business calls directed to KIS also can be made to Zillmer or by e-mail to KIScomp@yahoo.com.
For answers to questions about financial donations or to nominate a child for a computer, people should contact Hedberg at 838-7196.
People are asked to nominate a child through a service agency if possible, but they can nominate directly if they provide the name of the agency serving the child. To be eligible, a recipient must be younger than 18 and receiving services for a physical or mental disability or learning disability.
Computers for Kids has provided computers to children within a 100-mile radius of Minot, including children in the Bismarck-Mandan area. Gunderson said adequate financial support will be needed if the program is to continue delivering computers outside of Minot because of the cost of travel.
Shaine Zillmer, left, and Jay Gunderson, with KIS Computers, try out a computer that they have refurbished for the Computers for Kids program.
Fact BoxKIS Computers has set up a Web site at (http://KIScomp.angelfire.com) that it will be developing to provide public access to information. It also is looking into a possible newsletter and incentive gifts for donors.