South Charlotte

Ballantyne spearheads computer donations

Ballantyne Corporate Park employees and residents will have a chance in January to donate used computers to help children in Guatemala.

The park has partnered with the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte, a nonprofit that specializes in educational and medical outreach, to collect computers donated Jan. 14-16.

Organizers then will refurbish the machines and donate them abroad to the Technology for Education project, which distributes technology to rural schools in Guatemala.

The Technology for Education project is an offshoot of Funsepa, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of Guatemala by improving education through technology.

“We thought it would be great to offer an opportunity for companies to recycle their computer equipment securely while benefiting such a worthy cause,” said J.J. Bissell, senior vice president and director at Bissell Cos.

Bissell, who also is a board member of the Heineman Foundation, said his company plans to donate an assortment of desktops, laptops and monitors as well.

“I am excited about the potential impact of our collective donations throughout the park,” Bissell said.

Since 2011, the Heineman Foundation has donated more than 14,000 computers to Technology for Education, said Theresa Johnson, executive director of the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte.

Johnson said it was Bissell who suggested the computer drive at Ballantyne Corporate Park.

“This partnership is especially meaningful to me, as I have a longstanding relationship with Heineman,” Bissell said. “If we can help Guatemalan children increase their quality of life and provide them with access to technology for education, together we can really make a difference.”

Johnson said the computers will be sent to rural schools in Guatemala, where “a lot of the kids have never even seen a computer.”

“It’s exciting for them,” she said. “It will literally change the course and direction of the country.”

To qualify to receive the computers, Johnson said, schools must provide a secure area for the computers to be locked up and must have electricity. The schools also must have teachers willing to be trained how to use the computers.

“Everybody has to have a little skin in the game, and when you do that, you create ownership,” Johnson said.

Even if the computers are not connected to the Internet, Johnson said, they can be invaluable in teaching students even basic office skills like typing, which later can help students get jobs.

“The computers offer them an opportunity to learn,” said Johnson. “It will open up doors and windows for these students.”