Students from Salem Church Middle School participated in their first annual “bridging the gap” event this year, where volunteer students refurbished computers and donated...

Students from Salem Church Middle School participated in their first annual “bridging the gap” event this year, where volunteer students refurbished computers and donated them to families in need.

Virginia STAR (Student Training and Refurbishment Program) receives impaired computers each year from state government agencies, in hopes of having students refurbish these computers and donate them to families without a computer in their home. This was the first year that Salem Church middle participated in this statewide event. More than 20 students volunteered their own time after school to refurbish these computers. Not only are these children giving back to their community, but they are also learning how to repair, clean, and program computers. Once a month Microsoft employees volunteered their time to work directly with these students. During this interaction, students were given the opportunity to learn about future careers in the computer field and learn about software installation. In April, the students went to the Microsoft office in Innsbrook to finalize and load software onto these refurbished computers.

On June 9, the students donated 16 newly refurbished computers to families in need. These families have never had a computer before, so not only did the students donate these newly repaired computers, but they also coached and taught the families about how to operate these computers.

One particular student said participating in this event was his way of giving back; years before his family, received a computer from this same event.

The two men who coordinated this event at Salem Church Middle were Matt Bland and Bill Stehle. The two have worked together for eight years in the school’s Success Program. Bland, a teacher and football coach at L.C. Bird High School, is big on having his students give back to the community.

Stehle, is a volunteer and has given his time to the Success Program to help children overcome challenges they may face inside or outside the classroom.