Center Recycles Castoff Computers

COMPUTERS roll in by the truckload - ancient Apples, old IBMs, and hoary Hewlett-Packards.

Once destined for the dump, the castoffs are being saved, spruced up, and shipped to schools.

Thousands of working machines and others in need of slight repair are thrown away by corporations and government agencies trying to keep up with the latest advances.

Rather than let them pile up in warehouses and landfills, volunteers at the three-month-old Computer Recycling Center, located in a Silicon Valley industrial park, fix the computers and give them away.

"It's wrong to be throwing the computers in the garbage," says Mark Hass, a former robotics engineer and founder of the nonprofit center.

Thousands of schools lack money for computers, Mr. Hass says. "It solves a need for [companies], and it solves a need for the schools."

School officials welcome the computers. "It's very trying times in terms of school finances," says Louis Henry Jr., principal of Arbuckle Elementary Community School in San Jose, Calif., one of the first recipients of computers from the center.

Nearly 600 computers have been donated to the center, which has enough volunteers to move about 10 a day out the door.

Hass began with $20,000 in seed money from the Packard Foundation and has dug deep into his own savings to open and run the center. Now, he says, it's up to the community to keep it going and growing.

Thousands of students without access to computers are waiting. "We can't wait," Hass says. "We need to make a difference - this semester."

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