2002 COMPUTER DONATION PROJECT
In April, 2002, Kevin Crowley, partner with the Tallahassee law firm of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell, & Dunbar, P.A. Attorneys At Law, specialist in governmental law and lobbying, contacted Terry Ryan, President of The Children of Ireland Group to discuss donating 21 very modern Dell and Gateway computers to The Children of Ireland Group, Inc. for use in community centres in Northern Ireland working with at-risk children and young adults.
Kevin's interest in Northern Ireland goes back many years from not only having family from there but also keenly interested in the political conflict; especially, the effect on children there!
The following is a pictorial presentation of how these computers were worked on, packaged, transported to Belfast, and then further distributed to the community centres. The following account is made by J. Terry Ryan, President of The Children of Ireland Group, Inc.
May, 2002 - Volunteers spent several days purging the law firm's proprietary files.
June, 2002- Packaging each computer was next and required a team effort of assuring that they would survive the long trip to Northern Ireland - thanks volunteers for all the help!!
July 2, 2002 - Once packaged, computers were picked up by Federal Express who donated transportation expenses from Tallahassee, Florida to Belfast, Northern Ireland! We had executives of their company come all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, their local "ramp operations" crew, and main Tallahassee office executives attend the "pickup". Hooray to FedEX!!
July 3, 2002- Next was shrink-wrapping, palletizing, and weighing all the boxes by Federal Express at their Tallahassee distribution centre. What a ramp operation they have behind the scenes!
Then finalizing the logistic plan of getting all computers from Tallahassee to Belfast
July 7th - Computers arrive in London and being transferred to British Airways for final leg of trip to Belfast!
July 8th - Computers arrive in Belfast late in the afternoon - I begin searching for a Forwarding Agent who will help process through Customs and then deliver computers to a central community centre!
July 9th - I find a Forwarding Agent who agrees to process the computers through Customs and deliver the computers FREE OF CHARGE!!! Unfortunately, snag develops with Customs which insists that a import tax is due!! Discussions begin to see if the tax can be waived since the computers are being brought in by a non-profit and being received by non-profit community centres in Northern Ireland...all for the benefit of at-risk children in N.I.! Bureaucracy!!
I made several contacts with additional community centres in Belfast and found a VERY welcome response and a very BIG need of these computers!!
Meeting with Victims and Survivor's Trust (VAST) - they work with family members on both sides of the conflict and their children; however, have NO computers on which children and family members can learn computer skills! We'll be donating 2 computers to this wonderful organization!! (see their web page link on our main page for more information)
Unfortunately, playgrounds like this remain closed throughout Northern Ireland many days of the summer - but can't keep the kids out! Walking along the 12 foot fence, one sees signs of where youngsters have cut into the fence to get into the playground - lack of insurance is cited many times as the reason for keeping the playgrounds closed -
July 10th - Continue running into a brick wall with Customs all day! Finally decide to go ahead and pay the tax (approximately $1,500! - my personal funds) - Have made contact with local newspapers who are delighted to do a story on the computer donation and want to hear about the problems being encountered with Customs. Have also made some political contacts to see if they're able to assist also with Customs....may have to file an appeal later on to request refund! Just cannot understand their reasoning since their regulations clearly state that the computers should come in tax-free if used to run an organization!!
July 11th - I pay the tax, computers are approved by Customs, they finally arrive at 4:45 at central community centre, accounted for each of them, and we separated 4 going to other counties. Immediately brought them down to the Belfast bus station to be transported to each (note: When I say immediately...I mean just that! Bus station was closing at 5:30pm for next 4 days in commemoration of the local Orange Order holiday, during which everything closes!)...whew!!
At this point, I'm proud to indicate that 12 community centres representing approximately 1,000 children and young adults in FOUR counties of Northern Ireland will be receiving these computers! Indications are that they will be used to:
-assist children in pre- and after-school education programs;
-assist children and young adults learn much needed employment skills;
-assist in health education and maintenance skills;
-naturally, for recreation purposes to attract children and young adults off the streets,
just to mention a few immediate indications.
Once again, MANY, MANY thanks to:
-Kevin Crowley and the Pennington Law firm for making this donation possible! We are NOW looking forward to working with other companies and individuals wishing to find a way to make better use of their discarded but useable computers!
-Federal Express International Corporation in Memphis and the local Tallahassee branch for their untiring efforts to get the computers to Belfast and donating their services! Great job!!!
-British Airways for assisting in the final leg of the transportation from London to Belfast!
-Danzas freight company in Belfast which greatly assisted with Customs and transported the computers from the Belfast Airport to our central community centre FREE of charge!! Thanks Danzas!!