PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– When Paul Jones noticed a teen making a post in a Facebook group asking for ways to make an extra income to afford a laptop for school, he knew he had to step in.
“The thing that hit me at that point was that there shouldn’t be a child anywhere going out to do labor so that they can get the tools that need to get an education,” said Jones.
By trade, Jones is a enterprise systems engineer, but he’s also a parent.
Jones said he knew he had to intervene, and with parts that he had in his home, he was able to refurbish a laptop for the boy.
“That’s when the floodgates opened,” said Jones. Soon, the requests for laptops came pouring in from families around the county who were struggling to afford them.
The pandemic has forced many Bay County students to switch to virtual learning. According to the Bay County School District, there are chromebooks available for students to use, however they are currently being distributed and retrieved from students who have opted out of virtual learning this school year.
In addition, chromebooks are not the most compatible for those who are doing Bay Virtual as the options requires you to download the textbooks. Jones said laptops typically have more memory to do that.
Jones has now donated 43 laptops to families across the county, he said his waiting list is growing too.
“There have probably been a 150 to 200 requests that I have received, and I have had to tell people to wait until my current waiting list opens up,” said Jones.
Jasmine Medina has now been able to return to school because of Jones’s donated laptop after having previously dropped out.
“Once I got pregnant with my daughter, I decided to go back to school to get my diploma, not just for me, but for her. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the laptop he gave me,” said Medina.
Younger siblings of Medina will also be sharing the laptop to complete their studies online.
Medina’s mother, Jessica Marie Sims, was taken aback by Jones’s generosity.
“He’s been able to touch so many lives just with this laptop,” said Sims.
Ultimately, Jones is hoping to make a lasting impact on his community.
“There’s a huge problem in this country of generational poverty. And the best way to try and break that cycle is to try and enable the younger generation to be self sufficient, and I am providing the tools to help them to do it,” said Jones.
Jones has poured $1,200 of his own money into the project, and he’s asking those around the county with unused laptops to donate to the cause. The laptops hard drive will be completely cleared, Jones also sanitizes the laptop before dropping it off to the family.
A link to the GoFundMe can be found here. Or you can also email email@example.com.