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Note from Rep. Les Gara
Note from Rep. Les Gara  
Rep. Gara, Facing Foster Care Launch Back to School Laptop Drive for Foster Youth
Note from Rep. Les Gara

September 19, 2017

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Want to Volunteer To Help A Child?

You can be a Volunteer Mentor to help a child, through a program we worked with foster care advocates to start, at Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  Just call433-4691. Have the time to do more?  Alaska has a major shortage of foster and adoptive parents, and you can help change a life by doing that.  To ask about foster parenting or adopting a child out of foster care call 1-800-478-7307.  And, of course, we are always asking people to donate tax deductible new or used (good condition only) laptops for current and recent foster youth.  You can contact us if you'd like to do that.

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Dear Neighbors:

Rep. Les Gara, and Facing Foster Care in Alaska founder Amanda Metivier, are launching a Back To School drive to get more laptops to foster youth so they can succeed in school. Gara and Metivier, both former foster youth, founded the Laptops for Foster Youth effort at the suggestion of many youth, who faced barriers to success, and needed online access to schoolwork. Their efforts have matched over 900 laptops with foster youth to date, but the need continues with over 3,000 youth still in foster care today.

Isaiah King Lee-Allen spent over a decade in foster care. He is currently attending UAA, and recently received a laptop from the Laptops for Foster Youth effort. “I need it to keep up in school and to stay in touch with my friends and family,” said Lee-Allen. 

“Laptops help foster youth achieve like their peers, do homework and research like their peers, and reach their dreams like their peers. That matters to children whose lives have been uprooted, who often struggle with little, and live with daily roadblocks to success,” said Gara, whose father was killed when he was six. 

“We've matched hundreds of youth across the state with a laptop computer. This has been the determining factor for a number of young people who have fallen behind to be able to graduate high school,” said Metivier. “In addition, it allows youth to keep pictures of friends and family, and stay in touch with people, during an extraordinarily difficult time of their lives.”

Gara, Metivier and UAA Graduate and laptop recipient Gary Lohse
shopping for Laptops
Gara, Metivier and UAA Graduate and laptop recipient Gary Lohse shopping for Laptops

Gara has been advised by the ethics committee that this volunteer effort, which he co-founded with Ms. Metivier, is one he can continue to promote, and work on in his free time, but that his office cannot accept financial donations to go to the purchase of laptops. Laptops, or funds to purchase laptops, can therefore be donated directly to the non-profit, Facing Foster Care in Alaska, and those donations are tax deductible. 

To donate a laptop, including Chrome Book laptops, or funds towards the purchase of laptops, contact Metivier at, or contact Rep. Gara's office with questions. Rep. Gara can be reached at 269-0106 or at Gara is happy to talk to potential donors about the effort.

The program efficiently uses discount computer sales programs to keep costs down for new laptops and tablets. If you are going to donate a laptop, the program is no longer accepting used ones. 

New laptops, with an anti-virus program for PCs, or Apple/MacBook laptops without anti-virus programs, are being called for during this drive. PCs, as opposed to Apple products, do require an anti-virus program. 

“We used to accept gently used laptops but we honestly don't have the staff to maintain them, and Alaskans have been very generous donating new computers and funds to buy new computers,” said Gara, who has reached out to local foundations and groups which also help with funds for laptops.

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