Originally created 03/19/00

Students write firm, get laptops



When some seniors at Glascock County Consolidated School sat down to write a letter asking First Union Mortgage to give them 30 laptop computers, it was little more than an exercise in writing letters of request.

"It was part of a business correspondence class I was teaching," explained Noreen Coughlin, a business communications teacher at the school. "But a friend of mine who works at First Union Mortgage told me that First Union was in the process of upgrading some of their laptops, and I thought it was worth a shot."

The seniors asked First Union to donate 30 of their discarded laptops to their class. For many of them, it would mean owning their first computer.

"Glascock is a pretty poor, rural county," Ms. Coughlin said, "and a lot of these kids don't have the money to spend on a personal computer."

The letters of request reached the people at First Union Mortgage in November; they quickly responded.

"I think the fact that the seniors had taken the time to write their own, personal request letters impressed us," said Bob Belczyk, vice president of Financial Services at First Union Mortgage. "We felt this was an opportunity to give something back to the community which we serve."

Mr. Belczyk estimated the computers' worth at about $500 each, saying they were "good computers" and that their quality was not a factor in First Union's decision to upgrade.

"It's just something we have to do every now and then to keep up with the technological evolution," he said.

When the students heard that they were, indeed, getting their computers, they were a bit surprised -- and very happy.

"I'd like to thank them for making this possible," said 17-year-old Katrina Hannah, who got her first computer. Katrina was one of the seniors who wrote the request letters. "I have brought my computer home, and it's great."

The senior class of 29 pupils received the 30 laptops in February. There was never any discussion about who would get the extra computer, though.

"One of them didn't work," Ms. Coughlin said with a laugh.

Now the juniors at Glascock County Consolidated School, who no doubt are feeling a bit envious of the lucky seniors, are planning to write their own request letters for next year.

"They keep asking me if they can't begin to write letters right now," Ms. Coughlin said. "I tell them, `Sure, why not?"'

Reach Jon Forsling at (706) 823-3339.