"A fair amount of the computers we have in this school are donations," said Mabel-Canton information technology coordinator Gary Lea. "We rely on corporate donations quite a bit."

At the Mabel-Canton School Board meeting on Nov. 19, the board accepted a donation of 30 Dell desktop computers from the React Center, valued at $10,500.

"A lot of them (computers) we get are maybe two years old, I would guess...and corporations, of course, they do a tax write off (for the donation)," Lea explained.

One of the more recent donations was that of 19 laptop computers from Medtronic of Minneapolis. The laptop computers will be used in the Mabel-Canton science department chemistry lab to give students an interactive look at the functions of particles through a software program called Atom Smith.

"The new Atom Smith software provides a visual for sub atomic particles to visualize components of the atom," said chemistry teacher Jordan Nelson. "It is an interactive software...the biggest thing it gives us is a very accurate picture of what atoms look like."

While the newly donated computers for the science department are not in use yet, Nelson said they are looking forward to using them in the future. "Medtronics wants chemistry people, so they support chemistry in schools," said Lea.

Both Mabel-Canton and Lewiston-Altura schools received the laptop grant from Medtronics.

Other companies and organizations that have donated computers and other technology in the past include Southeast Service Cooperative of Rochester, Kellogg Company, the former Mabel grocery store and Minnesota Computers for Schools. Other agencies, such as the React Center have a sole purpose of receiving used computers, refurbishing them and then donating them to agencies that work with children.

"It enhances the learning experience for students," Lea said about the computers for the chemistry program. "It's not just chalk and talk - they actually sit in front of the computer, the program is there and they can model and do all of this stuff."

Computers are a continual need for the Mabel-Canton schools, Lea said. "We're always looking for hardware if we can find it. Right now we do have a lab of old computers - but they are probably going to go away because we are trying to go one-to-one with the (elementary and) high school. And we have gotten some donated laptops for that (too)."

While the computers may come to the school at free or heavily reduced rates, they are not 100 percent free for the district, Lea explained. "But again, there we have to put in hard drives, software and had to buy batteries - so it not absolutely free. There is a cost."

However, the gifts from various companies and organizations have reduced the technology costs for the district over the past few years.

"We are very lucky to get corporate donations," Lea concluded.