Clubs use grants to buy computers for kids

Jennifer Morlan | May 11, 2020
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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, schooling was disrupted for more than 1.5 billion children worldwide. For some students, the transition has been smooth. Work done in classrooms is being done on the family computer or students’ laptops. 

But nearly 830 million young learners globally lack access to a computer, according to the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Numerous Kiwanis clubs are tackling the digital divide that has been exposed by the coronavirus.  

Using grants from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, clubs are working with school districts to provide technology to students. 

While delivering food hampers in Scarborough, Tobago, Shelly-Ann McPherson-Price said her club learned about the obstacles facing families in their community. She heard about a family with six children who were all trying to do their schoolwork on their father’s smartphone. 

The Scarborough Kiwanis club is using its grant from the COVID-19 Response Program to provide food, laptops and internet service to 30 children in six families.  

You can help: Make a gift to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund to help Kiwanians meet the urgent needs of children around the world — especially during this time of crisis. 

“At least we can bring relief to some large families that don’t have a computer but have many children,” said McPherson-Price, adding that the island nation has been hit hard by the loss of tourism. 

The Kiwanis Club of Kanata-Stittsville is also using a grant from the Children’s Fund to fill technology gaps in Eastern Ontario, said club President Glynn Kneebone. Working with the Kiwanis Club of Bytown, the Kiwanians are working with public and parochial school boards to find students who need computers. 

KC4K Sticker (002)While school districts were loaning computers to families, the Kiwanians are buying Chromebooks that students can keep. Before receiving the grant, the clubs had raised enough money to purchase 60 computers; the grant will allow the clubs to give away an additional nine to 11 Chromebooks through the program it’s calling Kiwanis Computers for Kids.  

The clubs don’t meet the families but have learned about their circumstances, Kneebone said. For example, computers have been given to Canadian First Nation families; a family who recently immigrated to Canada from Equatorial Guinea; a family with five siblings, including two with learning delays; and siblings living with their elderly grandmother. 

Kneebone said the club, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, was considering a computer project before the pandemic forced students to stay home. “We knew this was a problem, but no one knew how large it was until COVID-19 happened,” he said.  

Response to the program from school officials has been overwhelming.  

“The pandemic will pass but this initiative by our partners in the Kiwanis clubs will have far-reaching implications for students to help achieve equity and excellence,” the Ottawa Catholic School Board wrote to the Kanata-Stittsville club. 

As of May 11, The Kiwanis Children’s Fund has awarded 27 grants totaling more than US$61,000. Here are some other examples of ways clubs are using grants to serve their communities:   

Kiwanis Club of Tokyo: Kiwanians are buying computers and tablets to help children who don’t have access to technology. The club is focusing on helping state-run children’s homes. 

Kiwanis Club of Tambun, Perak, Malaysia: The Kiwanis club is providing lunch and dinner box meals to an orphanage, as well as homes that assist the disabled and elderly. The club has been able to distribute more than 25,000 box meals. 

Kiwanis Club of Beavercreek, Ohio: The club will use the grant to help the Feed the Creek food pantry that is supplying more than 4,500 breakfast and lunches to children who are no longer receiving meals at school.  

Kiwanis Club of Magandang Gensan, South Philippines:  About 150 families will receive surgical masks, hand sanitizer and food packs thanks to this Kiwanis club. In addition, the club hopes to teach unemployed mothers how to sew reusable face masks to bring in money for their families. 

Kiwanis Club of Sincelejo, Colombia: The club is working to provide food, health care, computers and internet service to families in the Vereda Policarpa village. 

Read how clubs are using grants to feed hungry children during COVID-19 pandemic. 


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