EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- 150 El Paso students and families received free laptops and discounted internet service Saturday thanks to a partnership between the El Paosans Fighting Hunger Food Bank and AT&T.
"I mean, it's a huge, huge help, especially nowadays. You can't do anything without a computer. So it's really helpful for us," Maria Esquivel said a laptop recipient.
"We know that food insecurity doesn't exist in a vacuum. If somebody is food insecure or there's other challenges that they're facing. And so this is our opportunity to bring additional resources to those families," said Karmela Galicia with El Pasoan's Fighting Hunger.
The mission of the giveaway is to help bridge the digital divide between those with reliable technology and internet service and those without.
"So the digital divide is beyond making sure that people actually have the connectivity. It's that they have the devices. It's it's multifaceted. It also includes digital literacy, which we're also committed to helping provide in various ways," said Carlos Martinez with AT&T.
The laptops are refurbished and were given to individuals without technology at home. Those individuals were also registered for discounted Internet for their homes to utilize with their new laptops.
"You know, one of the biggest barriers that we learned during the pandemic was that we didn't have access to the Internet and some folks couldn't afford Internet," said Cesar Blanco, State Senator.
"I think we all finally realize just how important technology and access to the Internet is. It's not a luxury anymore. It's a necessity. Students need it for school. Adults need it for work. We saw a lot of elderly individuals who really started using telemedicine during the pandemic. So technology and Internet access are just super, super important now. They're part of our everyday life," said Iliana Holguin, El Paso County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
"It is going to be a big relief. We do have other two kids in the house, you know, So it's at least it's going to help them out. You know, we don't have to, you know, use our money to be able to purchase another laptop, which is very beneficial for us, and then we can go ahead and use that to accommodate for any other bills or any food that we might need to purchase at that time," said Mark Morales, laptop recipient.