It seems like some people get new computers, smart phones, or other electronics as soon as the technology changes – which is quite frequently these days. Today’s organization is on a mission to keep those electronics out of the landfills and get them to those in need.
WITS was started in St Louis, Missouri in 2002 as Web Innovations & Technology Services. At the time, Angela Haas was a college student and saw that many students needed computers in their home to get their work done. She worked with student groups at a variety of colleges in St Louis to create WITS, Inc. Initially, the main goal was to get computers and internet access to low income students and families. Later a recycling program was added because so many materials were collected and the organization did not want anything to go into the trash. In 2004, the first ever St. Louis Earth Day electronics collection event was held. People brought everything from computers and monitors to televisions and lamps. The group didn’t turn people away so they now run the largest donated computer and electronics reuse stores in Missouri.
Their mission is to keep electronics out of the landfill by putting them back into the community and appropriately recycling those that cannot be reused. WITS has locations in St. Louis, Missouri; Danville, Illinois; Benton Harbour, Michigan and Farview Heights, Illinois. They will soon be adding a South Bend, Indiana location as well.
The organization diverts more than six million pounds of electronics from the landfill each year. They offer programs that no other organization in the United States offers and are 100% sustainable with their programs. In addition, they do not depend on grants or corporate sponsors for their funding. They currently have 20 permanent drop-off sites for residents and businesses to bring electronics free of charge as well as other opportunities such as events and scheduled pickups.
The computers they refurbish are offered back to the community through several programs including seniors, youth, and a Volunteer-For-Free-Computer program. In addition, they donate computers and electronics to needy families in the United States, such as hurricane, flood or disaster victims.
Current volunteer opportunities include computer repair, software installation, phone calls to inform clients of our programs, and assistance with reaching more businesses. In addition, they will be needing assistance for their Computers for Christmas program, where they hope to donate 500 computers to needy families. Monetary donations are also accepted on their website.