MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A current project has the station on track to donate and install approximately $200,000 worth of computers, equipment, software and networking hardware to a local school district by the end of this month.
The Crane school district, which is composed of nine schools -- seven elementary and two middle schools -- will be on the receiving end of the project.
According to 1st Lt. Eric Cross, officer-in-charge of Information Technologies, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, the Crane district was specifically chosen because of its location near 16th Street Marine Corps Housing.
He said after the station recently up-graded to new computers, it was an easy decision to donate the old ones to the community.
"I spear-headed the project, and Col. (James J.) Cooney (station commanding officer) signed off on it," said Cross. "We've been working on the project since May. The hardest part was scrubbing the disk drives to ensure all the government information was cleared off."
After nearly five months of the Marines' hard work, the installation process has begun, and the Crane school district couldn't be happier.
"It's a real blessing," said Dr. Kristine Reed, principal, H.L. Suverkup Elementary School. "As you know, schools don't have a lot of money. Right now, the computers in the classroom barely work Ñ if they still do, and the kids only have one computer per classroom."
Reed said it would normally take years for the schools to afford the computers provided by the Marine Corps.
"I just think it's awesome," said Reed. "The military helps the community out on a daily basis, but being able to see them face-to-face installing equipment is great."
Reed wasn't the only one in the Crane district with a smile on her face.
"I certainly salute the contributions the base has made to the children of this community," said Gary Knox, superintendent, Crane School District.
While members of the school district are happy their students will be receiving a better education, the 15 to 20 Marines from IT are happy to be serving the community.
Sgt. Isaiah A. Kirk, network administrator, H&HS, said he tries to help out in the community as much as possible.
"It makes me proud," said Kirk. "I like being a part of an organization that invests in its future. Regardless if the students join the Marine Corps or not, we're investing in the future of the United States."
Cpl. Zechariah Black, small computer systems specialist, H&HS, said he believes the station has made a valuable contribution to the children's education.
"The students will learn faster," said Black. "You can put multiple books on one computer. There's also animation on computers to help with sight and sound. It just keeps them up to date with technology."
The state of Arizona's goal is to have a five-to-one ratio of students to computers in all classrooms. The station's donation has helped them get closer to that goal.