Help Fort McMurray wildfire victims by donating your old tech gear

It’s been two months since 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray, Alta. faced a mandatory evacuation as wildfires threatened to burn through the city. It precipitated the largest aid response to a disaster in Canadian history, with $86 million poured into the Canadian Red Cross coffers in just 10 days after the evacuation. But there’s still more that we can do.

With about one-fifth of all homes in Fort McMurray destroyed, there’s a lot of families that are trying to rebuild their lives and replace many, if not all of their possessions. That includes the household technology that’s become commonplace in our lives and that many of us in Canada take for granted every day – laptops, smartphones, tablets, and the list goes on.

Businesses were also affected by the fire and may need special IT equipment to get back to work, as Jim Love, CIO of ITWC points out.

“Everyone who thinks about Fort McMurray probably thinks of oil. But my wife regularly orders from an on-line business in Fort McMurray. As we’ve talked about that business, it opened my eyes to the greater impact of this tragic fire.”

To help, the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) and the CIO Association of Canada have teamed up to collect and donate equipment. While the ERA is always willing to take IT donations, this is a dedicated program for those impacted by the Alberta wildfires.

“This important initiative is a way for our members to give back and help a community in dire need of assistance,” said Gary Davenport, President of the CIO Association of Canada. “In particular, our Edmonton Chapter has taken the lead to establish this relationship with ERA and to reach out to all of our CIO members across Canada. We do hope for a great response and see this as an example of the ongoing good work that the Association does on behalf of the CIO profession within Canada.”

“As Information Technology leaders for various businesses across Canada, we have a unique opportunity to donate electronic devices to victims of the May wildfires,” said Shaun Guthrie, chapter president of CIOCAN in Edmonton. “Leveraging our network and using that as a way to give back to the community is not only a key value of the CIO Association of Canada, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Donations are being accepted from both individuals and businesses across Canada. If you have anything that meets the criteria below, then fill out this form on the ERA website to start the process.

  • Laptops and desktop computers (ideally running Windows 7 or OS X Lion at the oldest)
  • Printers, Multi-function devices, scanners, etc. with intact toner or ink.
  • Smartphones (BlackBerry, Android, iPhone)
  • Servers and server racks (running Windows 2003 or better)
  • Peripheral pieces including monitors, keyboards, mice, speakers, etc.
  • Routers for home and office

There’s no need for software on the computers as ERA will recommend open source software such as Open Office to recipients (or perhaps they can reclaim their previous software licences.) Expect to be in touch with an ERA representative after completing the form to arrange a pickup time. ERA will evaluate your equipment and properly wipe the hard drives as needed.

Donations are being collected until Sept. 27 as a tentative end date. ERA will provide a certification of collection and data sanitization, as well as a certificate recognizing the donor for their contribution to the Fort McMurray program.

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“When Alison sent me a note from the CIO Association, I immediately thought that we had to do something to help out,” Love says. “I hope that everyone else in the IT community will feel the same way.”

Help spread the word and lets help get Fort McMurray back in business and back online as quickly and painlessly as possible.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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