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Groups team up to give kids computing power

August 28, 2000

Groups team up to give kids computing power



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Computers for kidsThousands of Washington County kids are just a click away from the information superhighway.

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The Western Maryland Hospital Center has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County and the Police Athletic League of Hagerstown to bring computers to area youngsters.

Linn Hendershot, the hospital's publications specialist and founder of its computer lab, on Monday oversaw software installation on 20 computers that he rounded up for the Boys & Girls Club, which serves about 5,000 area youngsters.

"A lot of kids are going to have the opportunity to come in here and work on these computers," said Jim Deaner, executive director of the club.

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"It's big upgrade for us. We've been hustling computers for 20 years, and we usually get the stuff that's obsolete."

Boys & Girls Club members often use computers to hone their math and reading skills and to complete reports for school, Deaner said.

If all goes according to plan, some of these young people may not have to leave their homes to use the latest technology, Hendershot said.

The partnering organizations are establishing a program to give computers to kids who earn points through community service and other good deeds.

"We'll literally give them a computer to take with them," said Hendershot, who used the hospital's connection to a Columbia, Md., nonprofit organization that restores donated computer equipment to secure "as many machines as we need" for the Boys & Girls Club.

He obtained the IBM computers with CD-ROM drives, 32 megabytes of memory and Windows 95 software from The Lazarus Foundation, which distributes recycled computers to other charitable organizations and educational institutions.

The Foundation two years ago donated the computers that were used to establish the technology center at Western Maryland Hospital Center, Hendershot said.

In addition to the main facility on Pennsylvania Avenue, Deaner hopes to supply computers to the Boys & Girls Club at Frederick Manor and soon-to-open Noland Village locations, he said.

Some of the computers have modems, but funds are needed to buy printers and pay for Internet service.

Hagerstown City Police officers will help youngsters learn how to use the computers in an effort to forge stronger bonds with community youth, Hendershot said.

Former patients and computer lab users at the hospital center will also help train the youngsters, he said.

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