Keegan Nicholson, 18, of Missoula, Mont., a senior at Loyola Sacred Heart High School, has been refurbishing old laptop computers for the past several years, and donating them to students and young adults who cannot afford to buy one. I have always had a keen interest in working with computers, said Keegan, and have found that I am very good at refurbishing peoples old computers to make them run almost like new. Recognizing the vital role computers play in students education, and the fact that many students cannot afford them, Keegan realized he could use his skills to fill a technological void in his community.
Initially, Keegan conducted his project only within the Loyola Sacred Heart community, seeking donated computers through the schools marketing director and providing restored machines to fellow students. The first recipient, he said, was so thrilled she started crying. Keegan later decided that young people throughout Missoula could benefit from his program, so he established a website to promote his service. Before long, local news media picked up on his story, state agencies began sending him their old laptops, and the local school district asked Keegan to extend his program into the public schools. To manage his growing enterprise, Keegan recruited other high school students to serve on a management board and help coordinate donations and deliveries. Keegans Laptops for Students program has given away more than 100 refurbished machines so far, and he is encouraging others to start similar programs in their communities with detailed instructions on his website.