VIRGINIA BEACH - 400 computers seized by police last year are now being used by students who couldn't otherwise afford to get one.

The idea was the brainchild of a school employee, who contacted police after reading about the Internet gambling investigation and told them they could be used by students instead of being destroyed.

Police, the Commonwealth's Attorney office and the school division worked together to ensure the donation could be made. Each computer was inventoried, existing information was erased from the 235 hard drives and the computers were refurbished by students at the Advanced Technology Center for donation.

'This partnership with police will have a direct and positive impact on so many children across the city,' said Superintendent Dr. James Merrill. 'Many have never had a computer in their home; never had the opportunity to use the Internet to work on homework. That's about to change and their worlds are about to expand.'

'It may have cost the city thousands of dollars to destroy the computers, instead we can now help the children of our community for free' said Police Chief James Cervera. 'This was a complex process, but it is well worth the effort.'

The computers were distributed Monday and training will begin Monday night.

The school division receives donated government computers from offices such as Social Security, the military and now the police department through the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment program (VA STAR). Students in the A+ Computer Repair classes at the ATC re-install operating systems onto the computers and prepare them for distribution to families in our community. Recipients are chosen through an application process organized by the school division's Office of Community Engagement. Since the program began in 2009, 136 computers have been given to families free of charge.

For more information or to complete an application to receive a computer, parents should contact their school guidance counselor or the Office of Community Engagement at 263-1936.

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