By Suzanne Schmidt
In many classrooms, students are using computers more and more for their homework and for assignments.
For many students that is not a problem since most have computers at home. Those who do not have a computer can receive help from a nonprofit run by bikers.
Land O’ Lakes resident Greg Reaster, director of operations for B.I.K.E.R.S.C.A.P., said he started the nonprofit to help children become better students. B.I.K.E.R.S.C.A.P. stands for Building Intellect Knowledge Education Resources & Schooling with a Computer Acquisition Program.
“The primary thing is to get the computers into the hands of kids who need them,” Reaster said. “We help the kids whose moms and dads don’t have a way to get one. It is not about us, it is about the kids. We have to help them with their education.”
Many of the applications Reaster receives are from people in Hillsborough County. Reaster said he wants to get applications from Pasco so he can help people locally.
Reaster started the nonprofit in 2001 after learning how to fix and refurbish computers.
“I ended up with a bunch of computers,” Reaster said. “My buddies and I decided that I should give them away.”
Reaster has been able to keep the nonprofit going through donations from bikers and by getting old computers and computer parts from companies and people who upgrade.
“We are not funded; every dollar we get comes from bikers,” Reaster said. “The organization is 100 percent volunteer run. All of the money raised and donations we get go to our mission.”
Children only get a refurbished computer from the nonprofit if they fit into a certain criteria, but Reaster said he also likes to look at each case on an individual basis.
“We have to have a referral agency,” Reaster said. “We will call the school and get the student’s grades. We investigate every application because we want to see how we can help. We only have a certain amount of computers that we can put out there so we try to make sure that we are helping the kids that truly need it.”
Each computer comes with basic software donated by Microsoft. For children with special needs, Reaster said he can load special software on the computer.
“We have to pay for postage,” Reaster said. “We put basic operating software on the computers so they can learn the basics. Our target is to give computers to middle school and high school students, but we will also give computers to the younger kids.”
Shirley Maggiacomo of Tampa said she has been a volunteer with the nonprofit for three years helping to find computers and to find children in need.
“So many kids need computers and can’t get them,” Maggiacomo said. “We are helping the kids who would not have the opportunity to get the advantage a computer gives them. These kids can’t get a computer without help. I also think it is a great because it is a way to utilize old computers.”
Maggiacomo said she was able to see firsthand what getting a computer does for kids.
“I was able to help two kids who needed a computer,” Maggiacomo said. “They were so excited to get a computer that they couldn’t stop smiling.
She said she thinks it is important for students to get computers because every job is leaning towards having computer skills.
“If they don’t know how to use technology, then they won’t be able to get a job,” Maggiacomo said. “You have to be able to understand how to use the computer to get a job. It is also great for research because there is so much information they can find.”
Even though the organization has a place to download the application on their site, Reaster said he prefers for people to print one out and mail it to the P.O. Box 2744, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34639.
The nonprofit is also in need of monetary donations and computers. The organization also does computer repair work for people for a donation.
For more information, visit www.bikerscap.org.
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