A local nonprofit distributed 200 brand new Chromebooks to those in need, particularly students caught up in the digital divide amid the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday.
“In this pandemic, we knew there are students who don’t have Chromebooks who need them,” said Bob Guarasci, head of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC). Indeed, thousands of Paterson students lack computer devices to do their schoolwork. “We also know there are families who are struggling to fill their cupboards.”
Guarasci said the 200 Chromebooks are for students and 200 $100 gift cards to PriceRite are for their families. He helped to personally distribute them on Friday while exercising social distancing. Parents drove to the Great Falls Youth Center on Front Street and received both items without exiting their vehicles.
A smaller number, without vehicles, were able to claim their Chromebooks and gift cards by walking in, said Guarasci.
NJCDC conducted a survey over a two-week period asking people to describe their cirumstances and why they need a Chromebook. Guarasci said nearly 1,000 responses came in with compelling stories of why people needed the devices.
“We knew we had to do something,” said Guarasci. He began to raise funds. He said more than $100,000 was raised for the effort.
Some of the donors who made the giveaway possible were Sterling National Bank, Broadridge Financial Services, Lakeland Bank, Competitive Business Solutions, the Daleo Family, Florio Management, and individual donors.
Lawn signs were put up at the Great Falls Youth Center thanking the donors.
A Chromebook costs approximately $250 to $275 while each of the gift cards were $100.
“We were only able to accommodate 20% of people who asked for assistance. We know we have to work harder to raise even more money to do this again,” said Guarasci.
Guarasci is raising funds to do a second round, he said.
“I think there is a lot of need,” said Guarasci on Friday afternoon. “The people that are driving up today are so incredibly thankful. You can tell they are in fact families in need. We’re just very, very happy we can help.”
All the students and families helped are Paterson residents.
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