Morris Hills Magnet and Academy Students Run a Laptop Drive

Rahul Mehta, Rithvik Mani, Ananya Rath, Mihir Vemuri, Mukilan Karthikeyan, Akash Puzhakkal, Rohan Parikh, Siddhant Kapoor and Akhil Kalapatapu

MORRIS COUNTY — In light of the ongoing pandemic and the shift to a virtual culture, Juniors from the Morris Hills Magnet program and MCST Academies created a Laptop Drive in association with the American Tamil Medical Association (ATMA), a national nonprofit organization of Doctors, to help those in need.

The team members had collaborated via Zoom during July and Aug 2020. They had brainstormed a strategy to reach out to people and created a website, campaign email account, and canvassed about the project with their community, friends, families, local businesses, and eWaste companies. The team of juniors worked tirelessly through the summer, reaching out to local companies and communities. In a span of three weeks, the team collected and refurbished more than 20 laptops costing over 8000 dollars in original value to be donated to help socio-economically challenged students in need to continue their education virtually.

The laptops were refurbished by our magnet students, by backing up data, formatting, creating bootable windows disks, installing newer versions of Windows, checking network connectivity. Team also ordered new parts such as chargers, batteries, and web cameras as required for the laptops. The team then cataloged and arranged laptops donating them to High school and college students in the Tri-State area.

Magnet Junior Akash Puzhakkal said “I truly enjoyed this experience. During this pandemic, kids should be able to have access to computers to continue their education, and those of us who have spare laptops should provide help to those who unfortunately cannot afford laptops. Thankfully, I was able to provide help to other kids. The Tamil Task Team helped provide more than 20 laptops to those in need, thus giving a future to 20+ kids. Without a doubt, I am glad to be a part of this group, as helping people during these pandemic times should be a priority.”

Magnet Junior Mihir Vemuri said “As someone who really likes technology, it was an intriguing possibility to be able to fix laptops and donate them for a better cause. I was able to install windows 8 onto a Windows XP laptop, which was quite a challenging task. It is a great feeling that kids will be able to use these laptops for their virtual education, seeing as the current COVID 19 situations have made it hard for some families to purchase workable machines. I am so glad to be a part of something that will truly help. I enjoyed reaching out to various local companies for laptops and planning along with our peers”

“I joined the COVID-19 Tamil Task Team’s laptop drive to put my passion for tinkering with PCs and Smartphones to a cause that would greatly benefit the community. After working over the span of a few weeks, I could not be more satisfied with the result and impact we will have on those in need of educational resources. I feel ecstatic that, along with my peers in the COVID-19 Tamil Task Team, I was able to utilize my passion for the benefit of my community,” said Magnet Junior Rahul Mehta.

Magnet Junior Mukilan Karthikeyan said, “My motivation for this project came to from the knowledge that in our current situation the schools would rely on virtual learning, but many of the students may not have the resources to do so. With the beginning of school quickly approaching us we set up a virtual Laptop Drive in association with the COVID-19 Tamil Task Team. We created a website and flyers reaching out to hundreds of people in our community. I reached out to many eWaste companies and corporations such as Chase and Bank of America. Although we were not able to get a corporate donation, we received a great response from our community. During this project, I learned a lot about computers from isolating hardware issues to booting up new Operating systems. Creating the drive was a great experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to help students continue learning during this time need.”

“My childhood idol, astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.” Such delectable words especially resonated with me as we gave a helping hand in creating a laptop drive. After being able to help organize a drive for the COVID-19 Tamil Task Team that will assist impoverished students in getting an education that they deserve, has truly brought a sense of delight to my heart. After all, to contribute to something bigger than ourselves is one step in a fulfilled life,” stated Magnet Junior Siddhant Kapoor.

Magnet Junior Rithvik Mani said, ”This laptop drive was an amazing and rewarding experience and I am very grateful to be a part of it. Learning about computers, helping people, and getting hands-on experience were all reasons that helped motivate me to do this drive. Some of the difficulties I faced included parts not arriving and issues fixing my laptop. Solving these problems allowed me to learn from my experience and let me more efficiently fix other laptops. From this drive, I learned a lot about the inner workings of laptops, and it was great to have the opportunity to help other kids like me in need. Thank you!”

“I volunteered with the COVID-19 Tamil Task Force to donate laptops to kids in need. The way it worked was that you would donate your old working laptops and we would refurbish them and send them to kids in need. So I enjoyed it a lot because it allowed me to work with computers, which I love, and spend that time working on an honorable cause. I enjoyed the challenges that came along with working on the laptops and the issues that might arise. I would do this again if I had the chance,” said Academy of Comp Science Sophmore Rohan Parikh.

Academy Junior Ananya Rath said, “In these challenging times, many students are struggling and I wanted to do something to help out.  I volunteered in this Laptop drive as a part of the High School volunteering team for the COVID19 Tamil Task Team, to collect 20 Laptops for students in need during this pandemic  As education is becoming more reliant upon computers and technology, this drive helped aid those who are less fortunate. I was also able to learn more about computers with this experience as I had to learn to change their batteries, update their operating systems, and fix driver issues. Reaching out to our community and finding help in this time of need is really important and I am glad that I was able to find a way to make a difference.“

Senior student Akhil Kalapatapu from Cherokee High School supported the team and commented. “My motivation for doing this drive was the cause. I have volunteered for charitable organizations in the past and I feel that donating to those in need is a really good thing. I want to be as involved as possible when it comes to things like this. As for my experience, it was a bit difficult trying to find laptops to collect, but after finally collecting and donating them, I felt that it was a good experience.”