Get your old computers out of the closet, dust them off and put them to good use. That goes for software, too. You might have every version of WordPerfect since the days when it ran from the DOS prompt, but it's not doing any good buried in the basement.
So consider the National Cristina Foundation, the best discovery from the PC Expo trade show in New York, which was held June 25-28. NCF acts as a go-between for those who have surplus, state-of-the-art computers and those with special needs, but not necessarily money.
Here's how it works. Individual or corporate donors register with the Greenwich, Conn.-based foundation. The donations go to not-for-profit organizations or public agencies that provide education or training to the poor or disabled. NCF screens potential recipients and makes introductions, matching need and availability.
NCF doesn't charge donors or recipients (called "partner organizations") for its services, and there are tax deductions for donors. For individual donors, the deduction is the fair-market value of the used property. Corporations that donate inventory may receive an additional tax benefit.
Donated equipment is removed by NCF's partner organizations or by NCF. Donors also can drop off equipment at a designated location or ship it to a site specified by NCF.
Bruce McMahan, a co-founder of the foundation, named it after his daughter Cristina, who has cerebral palsy. When he donated a computer to her special education class, he and her teacher, Yvette Marrin, were struck by the machine's positive impact. They incorporated the foundation in 1985.
The point of the organization is best expressed in its slogan: "Machines you can write off. People you can't."
If you're like most long-term PC users, you collected your share of has-been widgets. If they're still in working order, put them to work.
Write to the National Cristina Foundation at 500 West Putnam, Greenwich, CT 06830.
On the Net:
Cristina Foundation Web site: http://www.cristina.org
Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to Larry Blasko, AP, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail email@example.com.