Your old electronics can help essential workers during the pandemic

Jun 25 2020, 9:46 am

We’ve all got a few old phones collecting dust in that one drawer of Things We Don’t Need But Can’t Seem To Throw Away.

A partnership between Ruckify and United Way Calgary has found a way to put those forgotten electronics to good use during what has been some of the toughest few months this century has seen.

Ruckify, an online marketplace for renting items from person to person, is collecting phones, tablets, laptops, and other connectivity devices on behalf of United Way so that they can be supplied to essential workers who have had to pivot to virtual services.

These items will go to social workers, doctors, counsellors, and mental health professionals in order to connect them to their communities safely and responsibly.

“A gentleman in one of our programs has a severe, chronic illness and has had to self-isolate with highly compromised health. Our program is supporting him,” said The Alex Community Health Centre, which has been provided devices through the program.

“He has experienced and overcome many challenges. Through Ruckify, we have been able to gift him a tablet so that he can stay connected and decrease his sense of isolation.”

David Burtyn, Ruckify’s Calgary Growth Manager, said in a phone interview with Daily Hive that The Alex Community Health Centre is one of 10 local organizations that the project is hoping to help.

“This is immediately something we can do to make a real difference,” Burtyn said.

He noted that anyone who may have an old (and working) laptop, tablet, or phone lying around unused can lend or donate it to the program by filling out a form on Ruckify’s website.

From there, they will be contacted by a representative from the company, and the items will be picked up right from their home, sanitized, and taken to the Electronic Recycling Association where it will be wiped and updated, before being brought to an essential service worker at one of the partner organizations.

Burtyn stated that these items don’t necessarily need to work well, but they do need to work.

“Some people dump a bunch of paperweights on us, and while we appreciate the donation, we want to make sure that we can actually help people,” he said.

“[The devices] can be older, can run slow, just as long as it’s able to help people stay connected, that’s what we need.”

He also stressed the difference it makes for people to be able to connect with these services through video call, rather than just over the phone or text — especially given the isolation many have been feeling over the past few months.

More information about the community relief effort, and how to sign up, can be found at Ruckify’s website.