Electronics for education

The Columbus father of a special-needs son is reaching out to fellow Cummins employees and the community, seeking donations of tablet computers to help others with similar circumstances.

Work to raise money and recondition donated tablets for children has become a personal mission for David McArdle, Columbus, who began collecting tablets about this time last year.

McArdle said his 6-year-old, special-needs son, Brady, has improved in letter and word recognition using an iPad for reading, something the youngster now loves to do.

Seeing how much an iPad was benefiting his son, McArdle created his own charitable group, Tablet REconnect, to gather donations of new and used tablets and e-readers.

McArdle, a Cummins pilot, refurbishes the tablets and updates them with the most current operating system, then gives them away to special-needs children in Batholomew County.

About 40 children received tablets last year, McArdle said. About five more have been on a waiting list for the past two months, he said.

McArdle and about 15 Cummins volunteers will be accepting donations of tablets, e-readers or cash at various locations around Columbus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Anyone wishing to donate a tablet, e-reader or money may stop by The Commons or the lobby of the Bartholomew County Public Library, he said.

Cummins’ employees may drop off donations at the Corporate Office Building or Cummins Office Building in The Commons, said Jon Mills, Cummins’ spokesman.

The volunteers also will be accepting old cellphones, which are taken to a recycling agency that pays the Tablet REconnect group, McArdle said.

Money raised through donation of cellphones and cash donations are used to pay for kid-proof iPad cases and gift cards that allow the youngsters to purchase apps from The App store, so the family doesn’t have any expense in using the tablet, McArdle said.

The group will take any iPad or tablet that is donated, although the first generation of iPads can’t support the latest operating system; those iPads are usually recycled for money, he said.

Any iPad 2 or newer tablet will support the operating system and can be refurbished for a youngster to use, McArdle said.

The organization can provide donors with paperwork needed to claim tax deductions for the tablet donation.

The group is hoping that area businesses that are upgrading their technology and tablets for employees might be willing to donate old tablets to Tablet REconnect, McArdle said.

Tablet REconnect will continue accepting applications from families of special-needs children who are seeking a tablet to help with their child’s development.

“We’re partnering with Arc of Bartholomew County,” McArdle said. “Lots of families will use the tablets for a child’s language articulation — many of these children are nonverbal,” he said. “This way they have a way to communicate.”

How to help

Anyone interested in helping Tablet REconnect may contact Cummins pilot David McArdle at david@tabletreconnect.com.

For more information, visit tabletreconnect.com or find the group on Facebook.

How to donate

What: Tablet REconnect donation drive

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday

Where: Donate iPads, tablets or e-readers, or used cellphones at:

  • The Commons, 300 Washington St.
  • Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St.
  • Cummins employees may donate at the Corporate Office Building or Cummins Office Buildings at The Commons.

Anyone who donate tablets or $100 for gift cards and cases will be entered to win an iPad mini.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.