COMPUTER PROBLEM: Donations Needed For Job Training

It’s time to think about spring-cleaning. Leaders of one organization say they need your donations, but not just the usual clothing and household goods.

Wleh Appleton enjoys his job. He says, “I had been out of a job for four years when they hired me here.”

He started at Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa two years ago working in the e-waste division. He says, “I was so appreciative to do computer work because I like doing computers.”

His job is to sort and package old computers to recycle. And, the non-profit needs more. Dave Parr, Goodwill’s VP of Operations, says, “When we have a lot of computers to process, we have more training opportunities for individuals to come in here and to gain experience in the computer recycling area. Without computer and computer related equipment, it slows down the process.”

Goodwill started taking computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, speakers, printers and anything computer related seven years ago. In 2009, it teamed up with the Dell Reconnect program to keep electronic waste out of the landfill and help fund job training programs. Parr says, “Dell gives us a flat fee, flat payment for every pound we get in and we recycle it.”

As computer equipment gets lighter, it takes longer to collect enough to send a recycling shipment. Parr says, “For 2013, we recycled 563,000 pounds, and that’s a little bit lower than what we’re used to. We’re used to seeing 700 to 800 thousand pounds a year.”

Not all the computers and their parts are recycled. Those that still work are refurbished and sold. Parr says, “When the computers come in, we determine whether the processing speed is dual core or higher, and from there we wipe the hard drive on the computers.”

The computers are sold at stores in West Des Moines, Ames and Ottumwa. Prices start at $140 for a refurbished machine. Money from sales and recycling helps people like Appleton land jobs. He says, “I’ll keep doing it until I reach the higher level.”

The Liberia native plans to go to school and eventually work with computers on a bigger scale.

Parr says Goodwill is the only non-profit in Central Iowa to recycle computer equipment. You can drop off donations at any of its locations.

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