Do you have an old computer system collecting dust? If so, you can give it to a local youth who is helping a good cause.
Kevin McCall is collecting used computers. McCall, a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 182 in Palatine, is conducting a service project as part of his Eagle Scout rank requirement. McCall's project is to collect, prepare, and ship computers to orphanages in Kabul, Afghanistan. McCall conducted a computer drive last month at the Palatine Presbyterian Church parking lot, where he collected 41 computers. He will accept donations through Dec. 18. If you have one to donate, you can reach him at 847-991-8159.
The computers McCall collects will be refurbished, outfitted with public domain software, and shipped to a non-governmental organization known as PARSA (http://www.afghanistan-parsa.org/about-parsa/default.php), where they will be used by Afghan orphans to acquire computer skills. McCall said that part of the refurbishing will include wiping clean the disk drives of user information and data, and replacing software.
McCall is accepting computers, flat screens, monitors, keyboards, mice, excess computer parts, cords that fit European outlets, and U.S. to European outlet converters. He said it is not necessary that the computers be fully operational.
I asked McCall how he chose this particular service project as part of his Eagle Scout requirement. He told me that he became aware of the need for computers through one of his Boy Scout troop leaders. The leader had been deployed to Afghanistan, where his unit had worked with the nonprofit PARSA organization to establish a Boy Scout troop in one of the orphanages there. Upon returning, McCall's Boy Scout Troop 182 members were asked by the leader if the troop could donate any old scout books and supplies for the Afghan Boy Scouts. On the list of requested supplies from PARSA were computers. McCall asked his troop leader to put him in touch with PARSA, and his service project was born.
I also asked him what he has learned through scouting. McCall said "Scouting has been a great experience for me. I've been in it for about 7 years and I've enjoyed every one of them. Scouting has helped me get outdoors, learning how to survive and even thrive in wilderness and urban conditions alike. It has allowed me to take leadership and responsibility for things greater than myself, and those responsibilities are important for building character."
He continued, "Scouts has not only established a strong moral code, but in experiences you got through, it is proven true and instilled deeper and deeper into you each day, so that living according to the scout oath and law becomes not a task to be done, but something you do every day because it's who you are, and who you want to be."
Thanks to McCall's efforts, it appears that some orphans in Afghanistan will be able to experience the World Wide Web through the public domain software the donated computers will contain. Knowledge, and understanding of other cultures, must surely follow.
That seems like a great service project to me – taking responsibility for something greater than oneself, resulting in a benefit to orphans in Afghanistan, some of whom may grow up to become the leaders of their country.