History of the Cristina Foundation
Back in 1984, reuse was not a generally accepted term. The idea of re-using computer hardware had not really caught on with the public. Moreover, landfills, when not being molded into ersatz skiing sites, were generally regarded as nuisances that we were learning to live with. That year, a Chicago businessman, Bruce McMahan, donated an old Apple 2e to his daughter Cristina’s special education classroom. The eventual result was the formation of The National Cristina Foundation, to respond to the need to dispose of outdated computers and other hardware — and the equally pressing need to provide refurbished technology to disabled and disadvantaged youngsters.
From its beginnings in Chicago, The National Cristina Foundation has brought computers to hundreds of thousands of underprivileged young people. Equally significant is our increased awareness of all the old computer hardware we need to put to good use, without automatically tossing it all into the nearest landfill.
The Donation Process
Donors enter information on their location, equipment to be donated and other needed data into online forms at www.cristina.org/donate.html. One of Cristina’s grassroots partners, another nonprofit organization, will either pick up the hardware or arrange for it to be shipped, at no charge to the donor. Once The National Cristina Foundation receives the donation, it will send the donor a fair market value receipt. Donations are gratefully received from both individuals and corporations. Pentium III and higher CPU’s, notebooks and docking stations, PDA’s, printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, peripherals, Office Suite software and operating systems are among the items sought. Cristina’s website includes a complete list of everything that the foundation accepts, refurbishes and re-distributes.
Helping disabled and disadvantaged students and other young people obtain hardware and software can give them a measure of pride and independence. At the same time, donors pay nothing to provide this gift to others, while keeping their outdated technology products out of the country’s landfills.
Several years ago, while visiting a country flea market, I wandered into a ramshackle barn on the market’s site. Inside sat row upon row of abandoned CPU’s and monitors. They were strewn with cobwebs and chicken guano, and they were clearly not usable for any worthwhile purpose. I felt as though I was visiting a graveyard — the next step for these components was the nearest landfill. Before that occurred, rain coming in through the disintegrating roof would have leached a myriad of chemicals into the ground. Since then, I’ve been greatly concerned with the fate of tech hardware, and with landfills in general. By employing reuse through The National Cristina Foundation and other nonprofits, we can delay outright disposal until the day comes when we can do a better job of it.