For the 11th year, the Voluntary Action Center and the Downtown Optimist Club worked with the City of Columbia on a program called "Homes for Computers." This program gives used computers to low income Columbia families.
Rick McKernan, a member of the Downtown Optimist Club, described how families had to meet certain criteria as decided by The Voluntary Action Center before receiving the computers. The family has to have a child in the local school system, it can’t have a computer already, and must have financial need.
Even though the Voluntary Action Center decided who is eligible for the computers, the Downtown Optimist Club helps the program through the location, said McKernan.
"The Optimist Club part of this, we have a building that is located [in the] First Ward in Columbia where probably a high percentage of recipients of the computers live in that area," he said. "So our location was fairly central for most people."
McKernan said that the location was known because the organization sells Christmas trees every year at the location.
There’s also a rewarding feeling that comes with working in the program, said Noelle Case, a board member of Downtown Optimist Club, who said this is her second year volunteering with the program.
“When you’re there on Saturday morning [and] you see the families that come in and the level of need they have and that all of these organizations can come together and work together to get them something that they’re so obviously in need of, it’s a really great feeling,” Case said.
Case says that Homes for Computers gave between 26 to 28 computers to Columbia families this year.