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Residents pitch in to put Virgin Islands back online

230 used computers are donated to help devastated territory

PROVO — Don Spotts flips on the computer screen and waits for it to warm up.

"Don't care, don't care, don't care," Spotts says, banging on the keyboard as he scrolls through the computer's programs.

"It works," he says, and that's all Spotts needs to know.

Spotts, a senior at Timpview High School, spent Thursday with other students evaluating more than 200 computers that will be donated to schools in the Virgin Islands.

The computer drive began in November when a delegate from the Virgin Islands told Provo Mayor Lewis Billings that schools on the island decimated by a hurricane were in need of computers.

Billings and other mayors in the county asked residents to donate used computers for the drive. Brigham Young University, Micron and the Provo School District donated a large number of computers. The quality of donated computers impressed Spotts, who wants to become a computer programmer.

Of the 230 computers donated, only 15 didn't work. Spotts and his classmates cleared software and any personal information stored on the computers. The seven students got out of class Thursday with their computer programming teacher, Shane Thompson, to participate in the service project.

The computers that work will be sent to a charity in the Virgin Islands, which will distribute them to local schools. Spotts thinks there will be enough computers to fill two labs.

Spotts' classmate, Alla Chivilova, understands how appreciated the computers will be. Chivilova's dream to become a computer programmer seemed out of reach a year ago when she lived in Ukraine.

She said there were few computers in her school, and access to them was difficult. The number of computers in Utah has amazed Chivilova since she moved to the United States with her mother.

"It's exciting because I get to fix computers, which was always my dream," Chivilova said, surveying dozens of used computers stacked in a warehouse at the Provo Youth Center.

The city is still raising money to ship the computers to Florida. The charity in the Virgin Islands will have a boat waiting there to complete the trip.

"The students performed a tremendous service," said Taylor Oldroyd, who coordinated the project for the Provo mayor's office. "Hopefully we can bridge the the technology gap that now exists in the islands."