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Newburyport 11-Year-Old & Dad Offering Inexpensive Computers For Needy Folks

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NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (AP) — Newburyport resident Ryan Gendron does not see the world like most other 11-year-olds.

“Ryan goes to the library,” said his father, Robert Gendron. “He sees people going in and waiting to use the computers and such and recognized that not all families have computers. We are middle- to upper-middle-class; Ryan has a laptop and has a lot of other luxuries, but he recognizes that others don’t have that sort of thing.”

The Gendrons started The Ryan Project two months ago with a mission to sell low-cost computer bundles — including the computer, monitor, printer, ink and paper — to families that need them, all for under $150.

“The genesis kind of came out of the two of us asking what we can do for other people,” Robert Gendron said. “But it really became the goal to see how cheap we can offer a computer.”

Both father and son stress that their endeavor is not a business. They do not expect or hope to make a profit. Ryan, a seventh-grader at St. Ann’s School in Methuen, is able to keep the costs low with a combination of knowledge and cunning.

The computers use the free operating system Ubuntu, and Ryan makes use of various retail websites, some resellers of used goods and some items straight out of the box for the hardware piece of the puzzle.

“It’s really about comparing different online retailers,” said Ryan, who is currently offering a bundle for $137.86. “I just really enjoy computers, and I thought it would be really cool if I could do something with my love for computers that was helping other people.

“We are looking for families who don’t have enough money to afford a regular computer,” he said. “Some towers go for $500 and up.”

“He’s an expert shopper,” Robert Gendron said. “The challenge now is to get (the bundle price) under $100.”

A vice president of marketing at Vicor Corp. in Andover, Gendron was educated as an electrical engineer and knows his way around a computer himself.

He has reached out to the YWCA in Newburyport and YMCA in Haverhill to see who might be in need of a system and said the next big challenge is finding local companies that might be looking to recycle their old computers.

“If they have an issue with what do they do with their old computers,” Gendron said, “we will take their old and tired computers and wipe the hard drive and put in a new operating system and get them to families in the community.

“If they have a computer and they don’t know what to do with it, they can contact Ryan via the website, and we will come out and take it.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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