‘It’s a blessing’: 2020 Project GRAD students receive laptops

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s a day many have been looking forward to, including us here at WATE 6 On Your Side.

After so many of you supported our recent record-breaking Project Grad Laptop Telethon, those critical tools for school are now in the hands of some deserving students.

With signs and safety measures in place at Project Grad offices today, boxes of laptops were stacked and ready to be picked up by hardworking students like Tyra Tabors, who is beginning her freshman year as a theatre arts major at Pellissippi State Community College.

We asked her what the laptop means to her.

“Oh, it’s a blessing, it really is,” she told us.

Another student, Andre Riddlous, enrolled as a chemistry major at East Tennessee State University, had this poignant message to share, “I never really had good stuff growing up, so I had to work hard for everything I have.”

His laptop is just one of nearly 150 computers going to qualifying Project GRAD scholars, arriving just within the last 24 hours.

“We had a delay in the shipment of the laptops,” Project GRAD executive director Ronni Chandler told us. “Finding that many — over 100 — in a bulk order was hard because the whole nation is virtual so there were backorders.

“We just got it in there! We’ve got kids on campus; classes started this week and they couldn’t have come at a better time.”

We’re still celebrating the record $75,000-plus raised during the telethon, especially during a pandemic.

So many of you saw a need and set out to fill it, sending a powerful message everyone needed to hear.

Parent Quana Fields who came to pick up the laptop for her son Jack Fields, a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, says the community outpouring affirms East Tennessee is “a community that cares about our students and wants them to have the very best education.”

Sixty-five laptops arrived Friday; the rest are expected during the next few days. Qualifying Project GRAD Scholars must show proof of enrollment in college or technical school to receive a laptop.

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