Free computers provided to local students

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Adrean Hamilton eagerly awaited the arrival of his mother, Samantha Cooper, so he could finally get a computer of his very own on Monday afternoon outside of the Boys & Girls Club of the Heartland.
DAR/Jonathon Dawe

School was not in session Monday, but several children in Poplar Bluff were eager to go the Poplar Bluff Middle School campus in front of the Boys & Girls Club of the Heartland for at least a little while, so they could receive a free laptop.

The free computers were a collaboration between AT&T and Compudopt, aimed at closing the gap that exists for students who don’t have access to a computer at home, compared to those who do.

“It’s imperative to improve the continued success of students moving forward in their education,” explained Jeremy Ketterer, regional director of external and legislative affairs for AT&T. “And this is something that we’re always looking for opportunities to do.”

Adrean Hamilton and his mother, Samantha Cooper, are all smiles and give a thumbs up after Adrean received his free computer as part of the AT&T/Compudopt Connected Learning program.
DAR/Jonathon Dawe

In total, 168 computers were given away to students in need. They were a mix of Dells, Lenovos, Hewlett-Packards and IBM Thinkpads. All of the computers come with a two-year warranty and free technical support.

In order for a student to qualify, they didn’t need to be a member of the Boys & Girls Club. Students needed to be in grades K-12 and have no access to a computer in their home.

Ketterer went on to explain that this is only the second such giveaway he has officially been involved with, the first being with the Urban League in St. Louis. The program is part of the “AT&T Connected Learning” initiative. Ketterer said he doesn’t know when another such donation will be made, but he is sure one will happen again soon.

“We will continue to do this with available resources whenever it’s possible,” Ketterer remarked. “This is something important that is much needed, and it just makes us feel good to see the faces of the children getting what they need.”

Ketterer noted a mix of volunteers and employees from the Poplar Bluff AT&T store helped distribute computers.

“It is a privilege to work with AT&T to supply laptops to our young members,” said Terri McCormick, director of development and finance for the Boys & Girls Club of the Heartland. “Laptops are an integral component in promoting technology education and enhancing the skills development of our kids.”

Boys & Girls Club of the Heartland has been serving the Poplar Bluff community since 2000. It has grown from two school-based sites to 10 locations throughout the region, and serves more than 900 youth daily after school.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of the Heartland to help close the digital equity gap in Poplar Bluff,” Ketterer stated. “Many students in Poplar Bluff lack the devices needed for digital learning. Access to connectivity is vital in helping to bridge the digital divide, and we are glad we can provide these resources to those that need them most.”

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