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Coronavirus: Alberta students host electronics drive for isolated seniors, vulnerable populations

U of C students are hosting an electronics drive to help isolated seniors and vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
U of C students are hosting an electronics drive to help isolated seniors and vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Getty Images

A group of students from the University of Calgary is looking to help combat isolation by connecting seniors and vulnerable populations through electronics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student, Katy Nedeljakova, said the electronics drive aims to collect 300 devices to give to those feeling lonely or disconnected during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Alberta government announces $170M to support seniors amid COVID-19 pandemic

“Over half of Canadians report feeling lonely during these difficult times,” Nedeljakova said. “So we decided to take action and see if we can actually make this electronics drive happen.

“This electronics drive is specifically for seniors and people facing homelessness who have to isolate because of COVID-19 and also might not have the external connections to social networks.”

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Nedeljakova said currently the group is working with both the Alpha House and the Brenda Strafford Foundation and has collected 40 electronic devices for the facility’s residents and clients.

“Right now we’re only taking devices that can connect to the internet, so smartphones, tablets and laptops are great,” she said

However, getting the products out to isolated Calgarians is quite the process, Nedeljakova said.

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“Once it gets in our hands, we take it to a processing plant, and then we let it sit in a zip lock bag for three days, just to make sure there’s no virus on it,” she said.

“Then we disinfect it, wipe the entire laptop and then we install the public library app, Zoom and Youtube, just so there’s something on the laptop that’s really easy to access for whoever gets it after us.”

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Nedeljakova said the group then disinfects the items one last time before sending them out to residents.

But, Nedeljakova noted that donating used devices to the electronics drive is a simple process.

Anyone looking to donate a device can contact the group through their website or Facebook page. The group will then send instructions on how to prepare the device for pick-up or drop-off.

Calgary Cares: Keeping seniors connected in self-isolation
Calgary Cares: Keeping seniors connected in self-isolation

Nedeljakova said that while the group still has a long way to go to achieve their goal, she believes the project will help many across the city.

“I really think this project will make a difference in the lives of a lot of Calgarians.”