Shelves of computers

This year for Regifting, I’m supporting FreeGeek Chicago. FreeGeek Chicago is a not-for-profit organization that provides low-cost computers to economically disadvantaged individuals through its thrift store in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. They do this by recycling old computers and reusing working parts to build functional computers. FreeGreek Chicago also provides education, Internet access and job skills training to those that want them.

FreeGeek Chicago does most of this work with volunteers. Being a computer-oriented person, I was drawn to what this organization was doing and attended an orientation session. Two volunteer instructors walked our class through the main parts of a computer while we followed along using example parts to familiarize ourselves with how to connect and disconnect everything safely. We then received a tour of the work areas. There are separate areas for disassembling, building and testing computers. By the end of the session, I knew that I wanted to go back to FreeGeek and volunteer, starting with disassembling.

FreeGeek instructors

During my second visit, other volunteers helped me get started with taking apart one of the donated computers. We separated all the parts and put them into specific bins for testing. At first, I thought it would be long and tedious work, but it was a lot of fun. Before I knew it, two hours had passed, and I had taken apart a computer and a few old CD drives. I also learned that all parts that are not reused are sent out to be recycled every month. So, nothing is wasted.

Inside of a computer

I’ll be going back to volunteer with FreeGeek Chicago again in the coming weeks and months. They’re helping to reduce electronic waste and offering low-cost machines to people that otherwise might not be able to own one.

To learn more about FreeGeek Chicago, visit their website at