Remember, IT Pros: It's the Giving Season
First, let me start this off by wishing all my readers the happiest of holiday seasons. Our turkey is in the fridge and we're getting started on prep work and side dishes as I write this on the day before our Thanksgiving celebration.
As I'm readying myself to shift into holiday mode, I find myself thinking about the ways that we, as responsible IT pros, can reach out to those less fortunate than we are, to pay our good fortune forward. Here are some ideas that I put into regular practice myself and that you may find useful or informative.
Be Responsible with Old Equipment (and eWaste)
At this time of year, new gadgets and computing components often show up in our households, first on wish lists and then very often as gifts or upgrades. When the time comes to dispose of old phones, computers, gadgets, other electronic devices, and even components don't throw them away, please! You don't want them going into landfills.
For one thing, electronic devices often contain heavy metals and other toxic components that shouldn't be leaching into the water table somewhere. For another thing, older devices and components often have residual value that can be recovered through a variety of means.
For outright eWaste, I make sure to drop it off at a local Goodwill drop-off center. You can use the Goodwill Locator to find a drop-off center near you. There are no less than 8 of them within a 10-mile radius of my house.
My car knows the way to my favorite drop-off extremely well, so I only have to steer occasionally on the way there! Goodwill Industries not only disposes of eWaste properly, it employs disadvantaged and disabled workers in its recovery operations so you get a double-whammy of goodness by bestowing such stuff upon them.
Hand Off Your Used-But-Still-Working Gear to a New Owner
For still-working devices and computing components, you can find all kinds of charities and outreach programs that accept such things. My charity of choice for such stuff here in central Texas is ReGlue.org. I've known their principal, Ken Starks, for more than a decade now.
These folks recondition computers, including desktop and laptops, and give them to underserved kids (kindergarten through college age) so they can use them for schoolwork and learning purposes. Since 2005, they've provided over 1,100 disadvantaged kids (and their families) in the Austin metro area with computers.
I give them all my older computers and laptops, as well as all still-working computer components (such as motherboards, RAM, CPUs, graphics cards, disk drives and SSDs, and so forth), when I upgrade existing PCs. If you look around, you can find such an organization at or near where you live, too. Search for strings like "donate computers" or "donate computer components" to get some ideas.
Money's Good, Too!
I also give at least $100 a year in cash money to ReGlue, and you can do likewise with such organizations, too. They always need to go out and buy missing "thises and thats" when they refurbish their PCs before passing them onto their new owners. They also deliver those computers to their new owners and thus also, incur expenses for mileage and vehicle wear and tear in performing their good works.
At this time of year, as all of us know, a little cash is always good to have. So if it's good to receive, it's even better to give cash as well.
As we progress into this season of joy and celebration, with lots of friends, family and food to go around, please remember that we can share that bounty with others so they can benefit, too. While you're at all of this frenetic activity, please enjoy the season as much as you can, with my best wishes, too!