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High School Student Helps Bridge Digital Divide During COVID Pandemic Through ‘Laptops With Love'

High school senior Amanda Sedaka created "Laptops With Love," first reaching out to family and friends for donations and collecting her first twenty devices.

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When the school year began, tens of thousands of students in LA county still needed computers or WiFi. While districts scrambled to equip them, one high school student came up with a plan of her own and got to work bridging the digital divide.

If it's the weekend, chances are Amanda Sedaka is spending at least part of it collecting donated devices, from computers to tablets, even smartphones.

She was already aware of the digital divide before the pandemic, but once schools closed she got to work to make a difference.

"My family had just upgraded a device," explained Amanda. "I figured there could be sort of a give forward movement, for devices to be donated."

So the high school senior created "Laptops With Love," first reaching out to family and friends for donations and collecting her first twenty devices.

"Then from there I learned how to work with Google to make it where I come up through Google searches. So now, actually if you look up 'computer donation Los Angeles,' I come up as the location main search," said Amanda.

Donors like Campbell Hall teacher Tana Ratnavale understand how critical it is for students to have a computer at home.

"It's never really going to replace in person education, but it's invaluable," said Ratnavale. "There are students passing their classes right now and having learning happen because she got a device that she was able to procure for them."

Ratnavale taught Amanda in eighth grade.

"The fact that she's using her creativity to help her peers does not surprise me. She's a doer."

Amanda's now collected more than 70 devices, with many distributed by El Nido Family Centers, a non-profit social service agency helping families in need throughout Los Angeles County.

Recipients in South LA are excited to now have a computer in their homes.

And while Amanda will head off to college in the fall, she's planning to pass down "Laptops with Love" to another high schooler to run.

"I think it's really important that it continues as long as there's that much of a need for it," said Amanda.

It's a need she hopes others will continue to meet, one device at a time.

If you'd like to make a donation or if you are in need of one, you can contact Amanda through LaptopsWithLove.net.

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