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Computer parts pour in for kids project

TALENT ' A local couple who refurbish old computers have been overloaded with parts since their plea to help put computers into the hands of Jackson County kids whose parents cannot afford them.

Surprised doesn't describe it, said Jodi Yap, who operates the program with her husband, Jerry. We were just blown away. It started at 7:30 (the first day) in the morning and did not end until 11 o'clock at night ' and that was because we unplugged the phone.

All told, the couple received more than 600 calls in one day ' over 2,000 in one month ' and 329 e-mails from citizens praising their efforts and offering to provide spare parts or to volunteer. Only a half dozen calls were requests for systems.

The Yaps' project, unofficially dub-bed Computers to Kids, began on a much smaller scale in 1997 and since January has been run from their home in Talent under the auspices of the city enhancement committee.

— In just four months, more than 150 computers had been placed with school-age children throughout the valley. After a story on the program ran in April in the Mail Tribune, the couple was inundated with computers, parts and accessories on a daily basis for over a month.

I come home and it's like the computer fairy has been there, Yap said. People have actually blocked my front door five times and my cat's even been trapped once. Yap said she had to rent a second storage unit to hold all the parts.

While the refurbished computers may be finding homes at the rate of one per day, the couple's answering machine suffered system overload in just one afternoon when a spindle wore out and could no longer record messages.

The only real downside, though, said Yap, was figuring out a way to weed out junk parts. A number of systems have been too old to upgrade and the majority of monitors donated ' four of every five ' have been nonworking, leaving the Yaps to pay &

36;10 recycling fees for the units to be properly disposed of.

As of Tuesday, the couple had more than &

36;600 worth of unusable parts weighing down their van.

If we accepted every computer that was offered, there's not enough space in Talent to store them, Yap said. And obviously we'd prefer to get working parts. But the response by the community as a whole has been absolutely wonderful. People have been great.

For more information about the project, contact Computers to Kids, 535-3105. On the Web:

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.