ITS Logistics, Reno Cigar Lions Club aid regional efforts to collect hundreds of laptops for area youth
RENO, Nev. — Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Northern Nevada business community has rallied to give back — from manufacturers producing PPE to breweries making hand sanitizer to restaurant owners providing free meals.
For the past month, ITS Logistics has led a mission to help the future leaders and workers of Reno-Sparks: Washoe County students.
Specifically, ITS Logistics — teaming up with Education Alliance of Washoe County and Reno Cigar Lions Club — spearheaded a project to collect and distribute new or gently used laptops for students in need. The initiative came on the heels of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order in mid-March that all learning in the state could no longer take place in schools due to the COVID outbreak.
“For our charitable committee, one of our pillars is education in our community,” Patrick McFarland, director of marketing at ITS Logistics, said in a video interview with the NNBW. “And what an immediate and desperate need that we saw. So, we were like, how can we help out? How can we draw attention to it, and get more people involved?”
Nearly 16,000 students in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) do not have access to a computer at home. Put another way, more than 25% of the district’s student body are unable to access online assignments and resources or virtually connect with their teachers and classmates while being isolated at home.
Dan Allen, ITS Logistics co-founder, was compelled to help upon seeing that shocking statistic, McFarland said.
With that, the company headed up the laptop drive for WCSD students, and established its offices at 555 Vista Boulevard in Sparks as the drop-off location. Laptops are being collected Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to a press release provided by the WCSD, Allen said he’s challenging all businesses and individuals “with the wherewithal” to donate a laptop or purchase one through the Education Alliance website.
“As a corporate member of the community, we felt that we had to do something to support less fortunate kids gain access to technology enabling them to participate in the virtual learning process,” Allen said in the release. “We knew businesses in the community had old laptops that could be repurposed for students. We also were able to source inexpensive laptops for $250 each.”
To be exact, ITS Logistics has ordered 60 brand new laptops to be donated to students, McFarland said. To date, as of early May, the company has collected more than 150 used laptops that have been given out to students and families without computers.
The donated laptops are being handed out by gloved and masked volunteers from the Reno Cigar Lions Club, whose mission is to help youth in the community. In fact, the group has been distributing donated computers to families and students for 14 years, said David Dehls, Reno Cigar Lions Club Emeritus President.
“It brings tears to my eyes, it really does,” Dehls told the NNBW of helping students in need. “I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have to choke back the tears because these kids are wonderful — they are so smart and so intuitive. You can’t believe how good it feels to help these kids.
“And it’s good to see the business community step up like this. It’s so nice to see that when extraordinary things hit like this, companies like ITS are willing to step up, and challenge their peers to go the extra mile.”
Kendall Inskip, executive director of the Education Alliance, agreed.
“We have such a generous business community,” she told the NNBW. “We are super lucky that there are so many people out there that step up. We have close to 300 very active partners in education. It’s not new for them to step up, but it’s definitely proactive. We are in uncharted territory and for them to say, ‘hey, let’s partner up’ … I’m just super proud of our generous partners.”
And the generosity is growing.
At the end of April, Inskip said the Education Alliance received a $25,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Reno, known as the Downtown Rotary Club. The funds will be used to purchase laptops for students for their distance learning. In all, nearly $50,000 has been donated toward the laptop drive, she added.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.