Let the season of giving help disadvantaged students - and your tax return!
If you work in IT or in some other high-tech realm, or have a computer or tablet at home, chances are at least decent that somebody in the family will be getting a new computer, laptop, or tablet under the tree come Christmastime. When the new tech comes in, sometimes it's also time for the old tech to go out.
Rather than tossing old computers, notebooks and tablets, however, or fobbing them off on poor Cousin Leroy, why not give them to a charitable organization? There are quite a few groups that specialize in refurbishing computers to give them to students at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even some colleges. Students there can put your old computing gear to good and continued use.
For the past five years or more, I've been involved with an outfit in the Austin, Texas, area named Reglue, whose mission statement reads in part: "Reglue ... gives free Linux computers to underprivileged children and their families." In that time period, I've sent a couple of desktop PCs and perhaps half-a-dozen notebooks their way, along with dozens of hard disks, several motherboards, lots of memory sticks, and all kinds of PC hardware miscellany.
Each of these products has in some way wound up enriching students' lives. (Even when charitable groups can't use your items directly, they can often sell them to scrap or recycling companies.) Reglue also happily accepts cash donations (click the Donate button on their home page), so I've made a practice of writing them at least one $100 check every year, and more when I can afford it.
Perhaps my biggest thrill came when I got to read the Thank You letter from the Reglue beneficiary who eventually received the mammoth HP 21-inch laptop I contributed to them two years ago, after having gotten four years of excellent use out of that unit myself.
Although not every metro area has its own local Reglue operation, you can almost always find a way to donate used computers or laptops to charity. Worst case scenario, Goodwill accepts electronics of all kinds, including parts and components, and runs an excellent refurbishment and disposal operation that reclaims and resells what it can, and disposes safely of what it cannot put back into circulation.
There's an excellent story on the Money Crashers website entitled Where to Donate Your Old Computers & Electronics to Charity that identifies nine organizations that accept used computers and/or cellphones, and points to the kinds of local nonprofit groups, like Reglue, that can also accept such donations.
If you fiind yourself in possession of computing gear you don't need, and would like to see it go to a good home (and receive good continued use), then please consider giving it to one of the organizations identified here. If you want to take a tax deduction for your gift, you must itemize deductions on your next 1040 submission. You must also obtain a written or printed receipt from the organization that accepts your donation that identifies the item or items received.
When you set a value on your donation, the best numbers to use are those that you might get from a pawnshop, or from local classified or online ads (Craigslist or Back Pages are good sources). It's not wise to invite the possibility of an audit by claiming anything more than 50 percent of retail or MSRP when the item was purchased, even if it's in brand new condition.
Happy holidays, everybody. May all your Christmas wishes come true, and your New Year be the best one ever!