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Houston mom uses Nextdoor to fix old computers, then donates them to families for virtual schooling

"It’s one way I can help," said Darla Purce, a self-taught computer whiz hoping to equip dozens of neighborhood students with free, refurbished computers.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The start of the 2020-2021 school year spotlights just how wide the technology gap really is across Houston.

Even with school districts releasing tablets and laptops to families, not everyone has a device that can handle the school load.

Some families have enough computers and tablets to devote to each child, while other families will attempt to do virtual learning while sharing a single smartphone.

So thank goodness for our neighbors! Some tech-savvy Heroes Nextdoor are teaming up to help families.

“I love it. This is how I reward myself when I’m having to study,” said Darla Purce about refurbishing old computers. She’s in the middle of earning a college degree. “I’m having to study for so long before I’m allowed to play with them.”

She likes to play with computers, she said, not on them. Purce has been building computers since IBM was the one and only.

So when her neighbor Ken Pierce offered his old desktop to Purce’s 12-year-old son at Klein ISD, she said she didn't need one, “but I told him I could find a home for it.”

She jumped on Nextdoor in July to write a post that read, “I had a computer to give away. If you needed one for your family. Also, if you have broken ones at home, I can fix them for free.”

Her Memorial Chase neighbors began donating old computers, parts and accessories like printers. “The response has been wonderful. And I repost, fairly often, and always get more response.”

Credit: Darla Purce

DONATE YOUR OLD COMPUTER: Email DarlaDPurce@gmail.com

Anderson I.T. donated the first three laptops. Sterling Manufacturing donated desktops and monitors. Purce says most old computers just need about three hours of work.

She wipes the hard drive, makes sure all of the drivers work, and installs a new operating system and free anti-virus software.

She’s hoping someone will donate more operating software and a better anti-virus option.

She’s work on 15 different computers right now.

Finding a neighbor who can also work on computers would be awesome, too.

“I have one family that I’m working with. They have five children and they were working on one very old, very slow desktop,” said Purce. Another family, “had three children doing all their online stuff on mom’s phone And I was able to deliver them a laptop and will hopefully be able to get them a second machine, soon.”

From the donated computers to Purce’s repairs, to the neighbors helped, “I would call you my digital diva,” said KHOU 11 Reporter Melissa Correa. “Oh! Well thank you!”

Neighbors shared this good news story tip by connecting with KHOU 11 Reporter Melissa Correa on Nextdoor. Click here to connect with Melissa on Nextdoor.