Among the countless needs of West Maui residents navigating the long road to recovery is having reliable personal electronic devices, such as cell phones, computers and laptops. These tools are essential gateways to public information, e-learning, community resources and loved ones, and nonprofits like the J. Walter Cameron Center are working hard to get them into the hands of those facing adversity after the August wildfires.
Last week, Hawaiian Airlines’ Sustainability Employee Resource Group (ERG) and IT Field Services team answered the Maui organization’s callout for device donations for its new Laptop and Cell Phone Relief Program. Together, they moved quickly to filter through scores of laptops bound for the landfill and refurbish 45 devices back to full functionality.
“Diverting old laptops that still have many years of life left away from e-waste and getting them into the hands of people who lost everything in the wildfires was important to us from both a community and sustainability perspective,” said Diane Crouch, senior executive assistant at Hawaiian and communications chair of the ERG.
The J. Walter Cameron Center provides affordable programs and administrative space to organizations supplying health, education and human services to Maui residents. On Sept. 8, it launched its device relief effort with a community survey to measure the need and a call out for donations.
“Since we launched the program, we have nearly 1,000 applicants in need of devices. Hawaiian’s donation really helped kickstart the program, allowing us to provide our initial wave of support to those who we identified had the highest need,” explained Becky Lind, fund development director at the J. Walter Cameron Center.
Six volunteers from the ERG helped clean the devices while five employees with our IT Field Services team wiped and tested the hard drives. Once the batch was ready, five employees packed the computers into carry-on luggage and hand-delivered them to the nonprofit’s Wailuku headquarters.
“These machines were slated to get recycled and shredded, but after putting in a little time and elbow grease, we were able to bless 45 families with a working laptop,” said Sean AuYoung, senior IT operations specialist at Hawaiian. “We know having computer and internet access is essential in this day and age, and we’re thankful we were able to make this happen so quickly.”
Hawaiian’s Sustainability ERG and IT Field Services team plan to continue supporting the Center with refurbished laptop donations until its waitlist is cleared. The groups are also leveraging the initiative to develop a robust, company-wide e-recycling program to divert more devices from the landfill.
“This donation is a lifeline for many in our community who have lost their devices due to the wildfires and other adversities. In today's digital age, having a laptop or cell phone is not just a convenience; it's a necessity for accessing critical services and opportunities,” said Lind. “This journey has shown us that by coming together, we can overcome challenges and build a brighter, more connected future for everyone.”
To learn more about the J. Walter Cameron Center’s work and how to donate, visit www.jwcameroncenter.org.