Since opening Hope Tank in 2012, founder Erika E. Righter has operated with this motto: Gifts that give back. Every purchase made in the store impacts the community, as customers can choose one of the charities and causes on Hope Tank's list to receive a portion of the sale. Now, with the new year, Righter has launched a new way to give back: Throughout January, Hope Tank is collecting used computers for Blue Star Recyclers and PCs for People, local nonprofits that employ people with disabilities and provide refurbished computers to low-income families and individuals.
“For 2016 we decided to pare down our list of charities and really focus on our partnership with them more than anything,” Righter says. “What I’m doing is in response to the customers, the people in the community saying they love what we’re doing and love the organizations we’ve focused on because they haven’t really heard of them before, and they’re looking for an opportunity to have more impact.”
Righter spent a lot of time over the past year working with young people with disabilities, focusing mainly on job creation. And as she toyed around with the idea of choosing more specific causes to support, Blue Star Recyclers was one of the first she focused on.
“What I see with Blue Star is a great opportunity,” Righter explains. “I like that they successfully employ people with disabilities, and they in turn are partnered with a nonprofit that restores computers and gets them into the hands of people in the community who really need them.”
After learning more about Blue Star, Righter started talking with people about what extra computers and electronics they might have around, and she says she realized this campaign would be good for both the community and the environment.
“What’s strange is that in Denver, there’s some weird sort of loophole where Denver citizens are not required by law to recycle their electronic waste, but businesses are,” Righter says. “People end up putting their recyclables out in an alley, where it ends up in the landfills anyway. Especially after the holidays, when people get new laptops and computers, you ask yourself what you do with the old stuff.”
Righter set a goal of collecting sixteen used computers a day, and so far the program has been a hit. “First and foremost, people are consistently saying they have this stuff sitting around that they don’t know what to do with,” Righter says. “This is a very obvious and identified need, but on a deeper level they know they are creating jobs. If the computer is just old and can be restored and then get to people who need it, it’s an obvious benefit.”
While Hope Tank will continue to donate a portion of all sales to its list of 25 charities and causes, Righter plans to highlight a local organization every quarter with a call to action in the window; Blue Star Recycles is just the first. To learn more about Hope Tank or get involved as a #hopeslinger, someone who embraces the idea that hope is a powerful currency, visit hopetank.org. The computer collection for Blue Star Recyclers ends January 31.