Nonprofit needs help to replace van that burned in fire

An electrical fire likely destroyed a Carson City nonprofit's only delivery vehicle.

Ron Norton, chief executive officer of ComputerCorps, said workers at organization's east Carson City property were unloading five pallets of computers donated by the Nevada Department of Transportation when the 1993 Ford cargo van burst into flames just before 2 p.m.

"We got two of the five pallets off, but we lost about 80 computers," said Norton.

More importantly, he noted, the van was destroyed.

Fire Chief Stacey Giomi said that the truck was not backed up to the loading dock and fire crews were able to quickly contain the flames to the vehicle, despite high afternoon winds.

"The truck is vital to the operation of ComputerCorps and it is the only truck owned by the organization. Without a working truck, we will miss many donations and experience tremendous difficulties in the distribution of systems," said ComputerCorps board member Dave Friedrich. "We are pleading for help. We need an organization, business, or individual to recognize the good work that we do and help us with the donation of a used working truck or the financial assistance to acquire one."

Norton said through ComputerCorps' "Every Home is a Classroom" program, computers are donated at little or no costs to needy families.

"We've been doing this for over 10 years now. We get about 1,000 computers donated a month and we teach kids from 9 years old to 90 years old, how to take them apart and fix them. Then we donate them back to the community," Norton said.

He said the group's mission is vital.

"Everything from kindergarten up requires keyboarding and using a computer. Internet access is critically important for education these days. You can't get a job unless you use a computer."

Norton said there are an estimated 425,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students in Nevada, "and it's estimated over 100,000 don't even have one computer in the home," he said.

The other vehicle ComputerCorps owns, a 1984 International, needs a transmission. "We are hoping that someone will come to our rescue and donate a truck, or help us get the other one that we have fixed up," Norton said.

Anyone wishing to help can call ComputerCorps at 883-2323 or visit computercorps.org.

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

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