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CompuKids Aims to Help Students Achieve Their Goals

Candace Braun

Observing that students without computers at home suffer academically in today's information age is what motivated some Princeton High School students to take action.

Run by three sophomores at PHS, CompuKids, which was founded in 2004, donates computers to those students in need, with an understanding that he or she will pay back the group over an extended period of time, free of interest.

The idea for CompuKids came from sophomore Andrew Bergman, who first saw that there was a need as a freshman. His friends Matt Grosshans and Dan Blumenthal soon joined up on the project, and last spring the group was able to donate two computers to sophomores at the high school that were without one.

The money for the computers was raised by these three students, who travel Princeton in search of private donations, as well as donations for services. This past winter the three young men went a step further by raising money for the computers by offering to shovel walkways for senior citizens.

"A lot of kids don't have computers," said Matt. "Obviously not having one puts you at a real disadvantage [at the high school] and really makes a difference."

He added that while computer labs are available at the high school for student use, they close most evenings by 5 p.m., leaving those who plays sports with nowhere to work on their assignments.

Wanting to give the computers to those who are most in need, the students have come up with an application process which asks for each student to list his family's income, his transcript of grades and attendance, if the student plans to attend college, and asks each student to submit a written response as to how the computer would benefit his educational needs.

Once the most likely candidates are selected, Andrew, Matt, and Dan meet with both the student and his parents for a sit-down interview. They explain the process of distributing the computer, which involves a flexible, monthly repayment plan to CompuKids. All the funds received back for the computers are put directly back into the organization to buy a computer for another student.

Students not only receive a computer, but also the other essentials such as a modem, CD-ROM drive, Microsoft Office, and a printer. Because CompuKids buys two or three computers at a time, it receives the computers and other equipment at a reduced price of approximately $500, said Dan: "We try to make sure they have everything to suit their educational needs."

The organization relies heavily on private donations from individuals in town, said Matt: "A lot of people are really willing to help out. It's a great feeling when the community is behind us."

And so they should be, as CompuKids just ordered and received three new computers to distribute to students at the high school. The group currently has two applicants, and is in search of a third. However there are many who are interested, said Matt, adding that in a school with close to 1,300 students, there is always someone in need.

Friends of these three students have also gotten involved, by placing collection cans in various businesses in town. The high school's guidance department has also helped point the students in the right direction when searching for likely candidates for computers.

Any student at either PHS or John Witherspoon Middle School who is interested in applying for a computer should contact the organization by emailing compukids@gmail.com, or by calling (609) 577-3752. Applications are also readily available in the high school's guidance department.

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