Spare laptop? Consider the needs of a foster child

Anchorage Daily NewsDecember 17, 2013 

Got a spare laptop? If it's not too old, consider donating it to a foster child.

State Rep. Les Gara and a foster care advocacy group on Tuesday launched a laptop holiday drive to benefit kids and teens in Alaska foster care. Gara, an Anchorage Democrat who grew up in foster care after his father was murdered, says more than 300 foster kids have been matched with laptops through the three-year-old donation program.

Donated laptops must work well -- if it's too slow for you, it's probably too slow for a teenager, according to Gara. The computers can't be more than 4 years old and must have a word processing program and Internet capability.

The Alaska Office of Children's Services identifies the children who are most in need of laptops.

One anonymous donor gave more than $10,000, which allowed the program to buy more than 30 computers. Another is giving enough money to buy another 20.

Amanda Metivier, executive director of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, an advocacy and service organization that works on the laptop project as it tries to reform the foster care system, says foster youth often have few possessions.

"Some youth have been bounced between over 20 placements," said Metivier, who also grew up in foster care. A kid with a disrupted life can feel more normal with a laptop, she said. They can stay in touch with friends and family and keep up with school.

For information on how to help, call Gara's office at 269-0106.

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