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Air Products and Chemicals donates computers to help kids
(Bethlehem, Pa.) – Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. has joined with Moravian College to put computers in the homes of elementary-aged children in the Bethlehem Area School District.
The recipients are children who participated in The Learning Connection (TLC) program, a family mentoring program that matches Moravian College student volunteers with fourth- and fifth-graders at William Penn and Lincoln elementary schools in Bethlehem.
Graduates of the first Learning Connection (TLC) class received computers as a tangible reward for completing the program. Air Products and Chemicals donated the equipment as part of its Computers for Kids program.
The Moravian students who were TLC mentors had been working for three years with these 10 children, tutoring them as needed and introducing them to campus life and age-appropriate extracurricular activities as an incentive to stay in school.
Nixsaly Rivera, for example, is a 12-year-old who will enter the seventh grade at Northeast Junior High School in Bethlehem in the fall. She was chosen for TLC through a program at Lincoln Elementary School that identifies children with the potential to go to college. Her mentor was Danielle Joseph '02, Easton, a recent graduate in Spanish and political science. Danielle was more than a tutor, Nixsaly said. "A tutor is just helping you learn things," she explained. With the mentor, you go different places, you learn what it's like to be in a college setting, and you work n what needs improvement."
The TLC kids aren't at-risk students in the sociological sense, said Phyllis Walsh, who coordinates TLC. They're smart kids with home problems that tax their learning skills. At least two have a severely handicapped sibling who requires much of the family's quality time and often much of their financial resources as well. And there are students like Nixsaly, whose mother, Lissette Martinez, is a student in her own right, working on a degree in early childhood education at Northampton Area Community College.
Nine TLC students were able to take possession of their computers this summer. In addition to the hardware, they—and their parents—got some concentrated training from Mike Preston '01 of EDS.
TLC is one of the outlets for Computers for Kids, explained Jim Yanora of Air Products, who came along for the giveaway. The computers, built on Pentium II chips, are recycled from Air Products offices that are being upgraded. They come with printers and modems, but the children's parents decide if they want to pay for an Internet hookup.
To what use will they put their new computers? "My homework," said Josh Meixell, also 12 and about to enter seventh grade at Northeast Junior High . "Games. Drawing. Writing essays and stuff."
Nixsaly already has had a computer of her own, said her mother, but her updated one will allow her to give the old one to her cousin. "We'll pass it along, just like clothes," she said.
Fernando Carlo Santiago III (also 12, also soon to be a seventh grader at Northeast Junior High) was the first to claim his computer on this afternoon, and he discovered that it took three people to carry it: He took the keyboard, his father (Fernando Carlo Santiago II) the monitor, Yanora the printer. This three-link human chain inched carefully down the narrow stairs of the old house on Main Street that holds the chaplains' and TLC's offices.
"Oh!" said Walsh as the Santiago procession left the building. "I must send everybody off with a hug." And she ran down the stairs to catch up with them.