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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning Foundation will once again serve as the presenting sponsor for Computer Mentors Group, Inc. (CMG) as it distributes free computers to low-income families this holiday season as part of its third annual "Christmas Computers for Kids" giveaway program. Distribution of these free computers will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 17.

Families who show an economic need will be chosen through a random drawing to receive a free computer as part of CMG's mission to bridge the "digital divide," a reference to the gap between those who have access to and can effectively use technology.

Although the Lightning Foundation will serve as the presenting sponsor, Computer Mentors Group, Inc is asking for tax-deductible private donations and will provide one computer to a low-income family for each $100 donation. CMG's goal is to provide at least 100 computers for Christmas.

Computer Mentors Group is also looking for volunteers to refurbish each computer with new modems, sound cards and a CD-ROM drive. Volunteers will also install these systems with Windows 2000, Star Office (a program similar to Microsoft Office), Anti-virus software, Anti-spyware software, and pre-installed Internet access.

Distribution and photo opportunities will take place starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 17 at the CMG office located at 2802 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite F.

Ralph Smith, the executive director of Computer Mentors, is also asking corporations, companies, small businesses and persons to assist by donating computers for this endeavor. Computers should be at least Pentium IIIs. Computer memory of all types, hard drives 6GB or larger, CD-ROM drives 32x or faster, 56k modems, PS2 keyboards and mice are also being accepted. Monitors and printers are not being accepted at this time.

The Lightning Foundation is the proud third year signature sponsor of the "Christmas Computers for Kids" program. The Lighting Foundation is dedicated to the support of local organizations that enrich and enhance the lives of those living throughout the Tampa Bay community. In gratitude for the support and passion of our community, the Lighting Foundation will focus its unique resources to advance amateur hockey and educational enrichment opportunities for children, along with medical research and treatment for those in need. Our "GOAL" is to make Tampa a better place to live, work and play!

Computer Mentors Group, Inc. is a non-profit service organization formed in 1997. Its mission is to provide computer training, in-home information access, and life skill development essential for underprivileged youth to have economic, educational and social opportunities. Computer Mentors provides, at no cost to youth, IC3 Certification Training that focus on computer literacy, understanding computer hardware, and experiencing the most popular business software applications. All of our students who complete the curriculum are offered their own personal computer as an incentive for completion. Students are also offered perpetual advanced computer skills training until they graduate high school.
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