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Baxter credit union to collect tech to benefit students

People can donate their unwanted or unused technology to ensure kids across the state have access to reliable computers and technology that keeps them connected to educators this coming school season. Affinity Plus in Baxter will host a collection drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10.

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Representatives from Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union and Minnesota Computers for Schools take a quick break at the Aug. 25, 2020, collection drive at the credit union in Baxter after loading donated unwanted or unused computer equipment to benefit students. Contributed / Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
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Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in Baxter wants to provide local students in need with reliable computers required for their education and development.

Tech Drive Tuesdays is a partnership between Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, Minnesota Computers for Schools and KARE 11 to collect unwanted or unused computer equipment to ensure students have the technology they need to stay connected and be successful.

“This event is a way to create more digital equity as it allows for computer equipment to be re-housed and repurposed for students of all ages,” said Hillary Kline, a spokesperson for the St. Paul-based not-for-profit banking institution.

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Officials from Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in Baxter set up in the credit union's parking lot Aug. 25, 2020, to collect unwanted or unused computer equipment to benefit schools and students. Contributed / Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

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To further support local students, for every usable laptop donated that is five years old or less, the Affinity Plus Foundation will donate $150 to Minnesota Computers for Schools to purchase another repurposed computer for a student or school in the community.

“We’re hoping to get some of those more recent or newer items that you’ve maybe upgraded to when you changed your work-from-home station around (during the pandemic),“ said Jamy Olson, branch manager of Affinity Plus in Baxter.

Distance learning

The purpose of the collection program is to help children statewide learn and stay connected, especially as more students participate in distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The most useful items are going to be laptops and tablets just because that is easiest for students who might have hybrid learning, or sometimes they’re learning on site and sometimes they’re learning at home,” Olson said.

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Minnesota Computers for Schools recycles and repairs donated computers and repurposes them to provide technology access and skills training to people who need it most according to the Minneapolis-based organization.

Every Tuesday through August, the credit union will accept equipment donations at its various branches on designated event dates listed at affinityplus.org/tech-drive . Computer donations will not be accepted outside the designated tech drive dates and times.

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“We were actually close to the top of the pack for donations among our branches for being a smaller market. And last year with people being home from work and everyone cleaning out their closets we had a great turnout (in the Brainerd lakes area),” Olson said.

Last year, the Baxter branch of Affinity Plus had 67 donations and collected 3,241 pounds of technology during its inaugural year hosting, compared to the 1,558 donations and 65,632 pounds of technology collected by the federal credit union as a whole, according to Olson.

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Collected donated computers and other related technology and accessories sit in boxes at a Minnesota Computers for Schools warehouse in this undated photo. Contributed / Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Equipment donations

Equipment that will be accepted includes laptops, desktops, servers, computer towers, LCD monitors, networking equipment, smartphones and tablets (reset phone and tablets prior to donating), and mice and keyboards.

Those items can be repurposed and refurbished and combined with other items to make a working item or can even be disassembled for parts for recycling if the donated item is beyond repair.

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“Laptops and tablets are the easiest for us to get into students’ hands, but all those other things are needed for schools,” Olson said.

Telephones or telephone-switching machines, televisions, stereos, household appliances, DVD or VCR players, printers, and copiers, scanners and fax machines will not be accepted at the tech drives.

“We are all in a place where we know it’s unpredictable what the school year is going to look like, whether or not it’s going to be hybrid or in person or at home. But the more mobile items that kids have, the better that they can learn and stay connected to their schools,” Olson said.

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Minnesota Computers for Schools is dedicated to computer security, according to Olson. Each computer hard drive of donated equipment goes through a rigorous scrubbing process at the organization that complies with U.S. Department of Defense standards.

“They use all these computers to rebuild and so having more parts to rebuild from is always better, so they can get more modern technology out to kids,” Olson said.

Tech Drive Tuesday in Baxter

The Tech Drive Tuesday event in Baxter will occur in the parking lot of Affinity Plus and features optional contactless dropoff; items to be donated without contact should be in the vehicles’ trunks and labeled “Tech Drive Tuesday.” Motorists then can open their trunks upon arrival.

“Last year, we had a medium-sized moving truck. And we definitely made it all the way to the top with donations,” Olson said. “We didn't necessarily expect that amount of turnout just because it was our first time hosting it and so we were shocked by how much we got.”

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Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is located at 15524 Edgewood Drive in Baxter. Jamy Olson / Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union


Donors should look for the purple Affinity Plus tent along with volunteers in the Affinity Plus parking lot. Volunteers will direct motorists to the parking spot designated for dropping off donations.

“There will also be open parking spaces that you can pull into and unload the items and bring them over to us … so if you want to help us lift some heavy things, go ahead and help us otherwise we will have more than enough volunteers to lift whatever you bring,” Olson said.

Kline said, “Our students are the future and need all the support they can get.”

If you go

  • What: “Tech Drive Tuesdays” computer equipment collection drive.

  • When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10.

  • Where: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, 15524 Edgewood Drive, Baxter.

  • Items: Laptops, desktops, servers, computer towers, LCD monitors, networking equipment, smartphones and tablets (reset phone and tablets prior to donating), and mice and keyboards.

  • More info: www.affinityplus.org/tech-drive .

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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