Siemens Laptop Donation and Covid-19
CFCC delivers critical supply in battle with coronavirus – laptops
Corporations for Community Connections (CFCC) has been helping Siemens Canada to refurbish and donate thousands of laptops to people in need for 10 years – a cause that’s more important than ever as we all do our part by staying home.
CFCC and its corporate partners are reaching further to help get people
online as schools, charities, government and business work from home.
What started with chatting over a cup of coffee has become a registered charity distributing laptops to people in need across Canada and around the world.
“As IT Commodity Manager at Siemens Canada, I knew the lifecycle of business laptops. After only a few years, they were erased and replaced. These digital past performers of the business world were still in very high demand among people in need in the community,” shared Philip Schaus, CEO of Corporations for Community Connections Inc. (CFCC).
In 2010, Philip along with two Siemens colleagues devised a process to reimage, clean, test and repair Siemens Canada laptops so they could be distributed to local charities. The program’s success led it to become an independent and registered charity four years later. Since its start, CFCC has refurbished more than 4,000 Siemens laptops and engaged about 750 employee volunteers. More than 45,000 people in seven countries have benefited from one of these new-life laptops.
Siemens Canada has donated more than 4000 laptops to CFCC, for people in need.
To expand CFCC’s impact, Philip partnered with Siemens Canada and Via Rail to collect laptops from Siemens offices across Ontario and Quebec, then donate them to Salvation Army and United Way Centraide.
The campaign kicked off on March 6, a few days before the novel coronavirus reached pandemic proportions. Siemens Canada’s Oakville employees refurbished 232 retired laptops, which Philip took aboard with him on Via Rail and distributed to United Way Windsor-Essex County, and Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in London. SMART Technologies added 50 new smart boards to the grand tour. He continued on to Kingston, Ontario a few days later.
Philip said, “It was a beautiful sight to see all of our corporate partners, and all of our volunteers, work together with such fierce determination to deliver this precious technology to people struggling with the burdens of the pandemic.”
March 7, 2020 - Volunteers and staff from VIA Rail, Holiday Inn, Tim Hortons, and Siemens formed a seamless chain to rapidly load 38 boxes of SMART boards and laptops onto Train #75 during its 3-minute stop at Oakville Station. “The chain was Faeez Chumroo’s idea, VIA’s station attendant”, said Philip, “when the train pulled out, and I settled in my seat, I heard behind me a man say to his wife “some people have no respect for baggage allowance””.
However, by the time Philip boarded the train to Montreal the specter of COVID-19 was quickly settling over Canada. Siemens’ Montreal office was closed to visitors. VIA Rail was reducing service. Centraide (United Way) cancelled all events… but still wanted the laptops.
“Initially, the workshop was going to be cancelled in Montreal. I didn’t want the laptops to sit there when they were needed by so many. So, we came up with a plan for the computers to be cleaned and reimaged without me being physically in the room with everyone,” explained Philip.
Siemens employees in Montreal actually reset their own record for laptop refurbishments in a single day, with only 19 volunteers…including Philip in an undisclosed location. Due to such team work, Philip was able to deliver 243 laptops and 14 SMART boards to Centraide representatives in Montreal and Quebec City. As Philip explained, “I met Adeline Caron alone at Centraide’s Montreal offices. Nancy Charland met me with a rented truck when I arrived in Quebec City.” At this point, Philip had to stop his campaign. The Peterborough workshop was postponed.
On his way home, Philip stayed again at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Toronto, the same hotel where he had stayed just a few days earlier. “On March 12th, the hotel’s restaurant was busy, guests relaxed in the lounge, and there were people lined up at Reception. When I returned on March 16th, I was the only guest in the hotel, the restaurant was closed, and my breakfast was in a brown paper bag”, Philip explained.
Within days a groundswell began. Everyone needed laptops. Centraide Quebec asked for 325 laptops and 125 SMART boards. Centraide Montreal asked CFCC to refurbish laptops which they planned to collect from their corporate partners. Charities, trying to serve virtually, needed laptops. The Ontario Ministry of Education appealed for any innovative ideas which might put computers in the hands of students in need. Halton Tech For Teens wanted any laptops left over from our workshops. Social distancing, closure of schools and Service Canada offices had deepened the digital divide.
“What a joy when I opened the box! I did not expect such high-performance computers!”, said Anne-Marie Ethier, Deputy Director of Regroupement Partage
”They are beautiful”, says Philippe Paquette,
finance coordinator and IT manager at
L’Ancre des Jeunes (The Youth Anchor).
Overall, the campaign refurbished and donated 475 Siemens Canada laptops. Just in time, too. As COVID-19 takes hold of the world and we are encouraged to stay home, our need to be connected has never been greater.
“Access to technology is a low priority to the poorest Canadians. There’s 10% of our population that isn’t online at all and another 10% struggling with homework on a smartphone. Do you know how hard it is to write an essay or fill out government forms on a smartphone?” explained Philip.
Now with Siemens Canada’s donations and CFCC’s efforts, more students can stay up-to-date on school assignments and those who need assistance can apply for it online, all the while staying in touch with the outside world while staying in.
“With the Montreal workshop restricted to visitors, I thought about refurbishing laptops in my hotel room” – Philip Schaus
A week after returning home to Kingsville, Philip was contacted by Centraide Montreal asking if CFCC could refurbish more laptops. The idea of virtual workshops was soon born in discussions between Philip, Fahir Benli and Reza Emamian. All the steps in a CFCC workshop could be performed by individual volunteers working in their homes. The first virtual workshop will be held in Peterborough, in early May.
Laptop Donation workshop in Oakville on March 6
March 12 2020 - Philip Schaus, retired Siemens Canada employee, is warmly welcomed by the Salvation Army of London, Ontario
March 12, 2020 in Windsor, Ontario - At the kickoff event Philip delivered much needed laptops and SMART boards to United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex County
Contact: Corporate Communications