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Appalachian Women's Fund Seeks Laptop Donations PDF Print
Written by Cathy Williamson   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 14:58

Perhaps you received a new laptop for Christmas or Hanukah and you would like to get rid of your old one.  Consider donating it to the Appalachian Women’s Fund (AWF) laptop drive benefiting two area non-profits that educate, house or mentor women and girls in need. Look around the campus of ASU and almost every student is carrying a laptop.  Not so for students of the ACCESS Program (Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success).  ACCESS provides tuition to hundreds of students who are North Carolina residents and whose families live at or below the poverty level.  The ACCESS student must be a first-generation college student in order to receive aid.   In an attempt to level the playing field, AWF is accepting donations of laptops to distribute for the current Spring semester.   Hard drives of donated laptops will be wiped clean by the Tech Support Department on campus prior to being placed in the hands of a student.  Beth Marsh, Director of Academic Services for ACCESS said “One of our goals as a program is to knock down as many financial barriers to success as possible.  Many ACCESS students come to college without a computer and have to depend on the generosity of their friends to accomplish their school work.”

For four years, ACCESS has received financial grants from the Appalachian Women’s Fund.  The ASU organization covers costs for four semesters.  But because these students often have to work to make ends meet, it typically takes them longer to see that degree completion and graduation.  If a student has to attend summer school or work an unpaid internship, ACCESS does not cover those costs.  The AWF funds the gap.  “It does no one any good for the student to complete four years of college but not be able to afford to live while completing a required internship.  Without the internship credit, the degree is unattainable and the dream of an education can often die right there on the spot,” said AWF President, Jean Brooks.  Recent budget cuts have also made it more difficult to earn a degree in four years because classes may not be offered when a student needs them, forcing them into summer school classes not covered by ACCESS.

Also slated to receive donated laptops is Watauga County’s women’s crisis assistance shelter, OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter).  Those laptop hard drives will also be wiped clean before being placed at the crisis shelter.  With laptops, clients can better prepare themselves to leave an abusive partner by re-establishing relationships with family and friends that have been cut-off by the abuser.  A woman can gain access to financial links like banks and loan officers to make the transition easier.  Keeping open communication with counselors, mentors and a support team will provide empowerment to any woman living with domestic violence or sexual abuse.  OASIS Director, Jennifer Herman said “Anything we can do to help a victim feel less isolated is a step in the right direction.  A computer, like a cell phone, can be a lifeline.”  Children living in the safe-house will also be able to use the laptops for homework.  “Often, when women and children flee an abusive home, they leave with only the clothes on their back,” added Herman.

Because the technology is ever-changing, the Tech Support Department at ASU recommends that the donated laptops be no older than five years.  You can drop off your donated laptop at Kilwins Ice Cream Shop at the Tanger Outlet Center on Hwy 321 in Blowing Rock.  Store hours are Monday through Saturday 10am until 7pm and Sunday 11am until 6pm.  Kilwins will give you a $5.00 gift card as a thank you for your tax-deductible donation.  Drop off can also be arranged by appointment at the AWF office located in Boone at the Oak Summit Business Park at 895 State Farm Rd.  Call the office at  (828) 264-4002 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about the laptop drive sponsored by the Appalachian Women’s Fund.

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