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Portland companies bridging digital divide through tech and supply drives

Intel and Free Geek are organizing technology donation events to help connect students in need.

PORTLAND, Ore. — As a part of KGW's School Supply Drive, several groups are teaming up to collect technology donations during the pandemic.

"Now more than ever, we've been inundated with requests," Tom Cox with Free Geek said.

Free Geek is a Portland-based nonprofit that recycles technology and provides it to communities in need. Cox said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for technology is greater than ever.

"This has actually shed a very a stark light on the digital divide," Cox said.

"In our current environment, it's a basic human need," said Christopher Croteau with Intel. "We've heard horrible stories of kids trying to do their homework on mobile phones, parents driving to fast food restaurants to get access to free WiFi in the parking lot."

Intel and Free Geek are working together to provide donation events around the Portland area, including three on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Intel's Aloha campus, OnPoint Community Credit Union's Lloyd Center branch, and the West Linn Safeway.

RELATED: The KGW School Supply Drive is going on now!

Free Geek is also organizing contactless drop-offs in Southeast Portland for electronics and school supplies.

The organization said it's even able to take old parts of broken devices to refurbish other technology, then safely recycle the remaining materials.

Families and organizations in need can then apply for technology grants.

"That demand isn't going away anytime soon," Croteau said.

Intel said cash donations online would also help it contribute more technology to students who need it.

RELATED: Back to school in Oregon: What your district's plan looks like