Portland, OR. Do you have an old computer you’re not using? You can donate it to a nonprofit called Free Geek to help meet a 4,000% increase in the number of requests for computers so low-income people can get online. A good portion of requests come from students who suddenly need to get online in order to participate in K-12 education or college. Many people are reaching out on behalf of aging parents who are no longer able to visit their doctors and others are desperate for access to mental health or addiction treatment services.

If you donate, rest assured, your data will be secure. “Data security is our top concern when receiving donations – and we will thoroughly wipe (or physically destroy) any hard drives that we receive,” explains the organization. In the first weeks of the pandemic, the organization saw the demand for used laptops spike from about 300 requests per month to 3,000 per week. “Folks need the internet to be able to see a doctor, to pay their bills, do work so they can continue to get a paycheck or get an education,” said Hilary Shohoney, director of community development for Portland nonprofit Free Geek. “It touches every area of our life right now.” But an estimated 17% of Portlanders aren’t connected to the internet. In rural parts of the Northwest, that number balloons to nearly 40%. With the coronavirus pandemic all but canceling face-to-face interactions, the internet is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. “For us, the numbers changed exponentially,” Shohoney said. Here’s a link with info on donating: https://www.freegeek.org/get-involved/donate-technology

Free Geek accepts donations of computers and other electronics at its Portland facility. It offers a donation receipt you can use for tax purposes. (Photo credit, OPB)

On April 1st, Free Geek sold its first round of machines to students at PSU who didn’t have laptops for remote studying through its Low Cost Tech Community Program.

From Free Geek:

Free Geek continues to provide computers to those in need and we need your reusable laptops.

Our current focus is on receiving Macbooks and laptops with i-series processors. Secondarily we have a need for desktop computers, LCD monitors, mice, webcams and headsets. This is the aspect of our work that is essential at this time and we hope that most other hardware donations can wait until safety concerns and our capacity improve.

For hardware donations we offer the following options:

  •    Public Drop offs (limited hours and quantity) In the parking lot on the northeast side of our building. We will have collection bins set outside the warehouse entrance. Please be prepared to unload your own vehicle and form a line if needed. For the safety of our community, we ask that you wear a face covering  and maintain a 6 foot distance from staff and other donors at all times. If you don’t see John at the warehouse door when you arrive during one of the following times: please call the Warehouse Desk at (503) 232-9350 x 124. Receipts will be available by request, this can be expedited by attaching your name and email address to your donation. 

    • Friday April 24, between 10:30am and 1pm
    • Saturday April 25, between 3pm and 5pm.
    • Thursday April 30, between 10:30am and 1pm,
    • Friday May 1,  between 10:30am and 1pm
    • Saturday May 2, 2020 between 3pm and 5pm.
  •  Drop off by appointment for 10 or more computers, or large loads of other equipment. 
    • Please email [email protected] to let us know what you have and when you would like to bring it by.
    • Availability may be limited but we will work to accommodate your needs.
  •  You can mail your donation to  
    • Free Geek: Hardware Donation, 1731 SE 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97214.
  • We can pickup your equipment (limited availability, fees apply)
    • Currently this works best if can arrange for your items can be brought outside and, for larger volumes, secured onto pallets.
    •  For more details see our pickups page.
  • We can wait this out together, and be there for you in the future.

Free Geek’s mission is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potential. Here’s more info on our donations: https://www.freegeek.org/get-involved/donate-technology

At the turn of the millennium, Free Geek was founded to create digital equity through environmental sustainability.