Siemens Canada is doing its part to help families who need computers.
"We have in our daily lives our Smartphones, our laptops, they are a part of our life from morning to night," said Philip Schaus, purchasing manager for Siemens Canada and president of Corporations for Community Connections Inc. (CFCC), speaking at The Salvation Army office in Tillsonburg Wednesday morning.
"Our schools expect students to be able to access computers. I have a number of teachers that have become involved with us, they tell me that often times students that come from families that can't afford computers prefer not to turn in assignments, as opposed to admitting they don't have a computer."
It's very important to have computers, he summed up, because the schools expect them to have access to computers.
"Computers are essential to our world and we give them a very high priority in our work and in our schools. However, many people in our community to not live with computers as we do – instead they live with hunger, the cold, and unemployment. For many people a computer is not a high priority because it's not food. It's not shelter. It's not a job. It doesn't sustain them on a daily basis. It does not meet their basic requirements for sustaining."
Instead, computers are an opportunity for development.
"There's an old saying that I like, that you give a man a fish and you feed for a day. Teach a man to fish and he feeds his family for life. We see a computer as that opportunity. It may not change a persons life today, however it's an opportunity to improve their life. It's an opportunity for students to do better in their schoolwork. For seniors to be able to stay in contact with friends and family, even though they may not be able to get out of their house. For people to find jobs.
"If you don't have a computer today you are very disadvantaged."
In 2010, a group of three Siemens Canada employees founded CFCC, and developed a way to give new life to old corporate computers.
"Since then Siemens Canada has donated almost 900 laptops to 28 Canadian charitable organizations, helping more than 7,000 people. And we're growing exponentially. We will certainly exceed 1,000 computers this year, and probably close to 1,500 by next year."
Siemens employees are inspired to make a difference in their communities, he said, and to help change the world where we live and work.
"Over the last few weeks a very dedicated team of volunteers gave new life to almost 100 laptops, which we believe will change the lives of people in Tillsonburg. Today we're very proud to donate these refurbished laptops to the Tillsonburg Salvation Army, and we trust that these computers will be used to build opportunity, as we say, 'bits and bytes at a time.'
"They are very good computers. Siemens pays a big price for these, they are high performance... and even after three years they still have plenty of service left in them. They've been refurbished with licenced software, cleaned up, and tested."
Schaus hopes to see the Corporations for Community Connections Inc. refurbishing program expand to other companies.
The Salvation Army's Donna Acre, community ministries coordinator, said there will be an application process to distribute the computers in the community to those in need.
"Please stay in touch, please send me stories on how people are using them," Schaus told the Salvation Army representatives. "We love those because we can put them into other articles, and I use them to inspire volunteers, or to get other companies to start up similar programs."