Program that gives refurbished computers to families that can't afford them overwhelmed with demand

A program to deliver refurbished computers to Calgary families that can't afford them has been overwhelmed with demand. 

The YES Centre thought it would help out a handful of families and now finds itself with a waiting list

Nyanut Abiam and her three daughters didn’t have a computer for school and received a Chromebook from Gar Gar (foreground) and the YES Centre. (YES Centre)

A program to deliver refurbished computers to families that can't afford them has been overwhelmed with demand. 

The Youth Empowerment and Skills Centre thought it would source and deliver a few computers, but now finds itself with a waiting list. 

Gar Gar, who runs the centre, says he started hearing from families who needed computers in December as COVID forced their kids back into online learning. 

As he started to offer help, and call out for donations, that need snowballed

"From 10 families to 20 to 30, then on the waiting list basis. It's sad because we thought it was something that one family or two might be facing," said Gar. 

Can't turn families away

The program started seeking applications in December and began to collect and distribute them in January. The centre has given out four computers so far. 

Gar says it's been hard to tell families they might not get the help they need. 

"There is no way to kind of like turn them away," he said. 

"We always tell them you can apply, we might put you on the waiting list, but if something comes up then we can go to your family next." 

Gar has partnered with the Electronics Recycling Association, which refurbishes the computers for free.

Shrinking donations

Spokesperson Julia Armstrong says she's been swamped with similar requests from schools and other non-profits this year, while donations have dropped significantly. 

"It's been really difficult, with businesses kind of being closed down, we've definitely seen a decrease in the inventory that we're receiving," she said.

"So it's been tougher, it's taking a bit longer."

The YES Centre is accepting donations of computers, laptops and tablets up until Feb. 1. at 4020 26 Ave. S.E., Monday to Friday between Noon and 3 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

With files from Colleen Underwood


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?