The holidays are, in theory, a time of generosity and compassion for others. But over the New Year’s weekend, InterConnection — a Seattle-based nonprofit that refurbishes donated computer equipment for nonprofits and NGOs — was the victim of a particularly uncompassionate crime.
The InterConnection van, which the nonprofit uses to pick up donated equipment from local tech companies, was destroyed when it was stolen and used in a robbery, leaving the nonprofit with no way to pick up most of its donations.
InterConnection has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the purchase of a new van, with the goal of raising $35,000 to buy a brand new vehicle. As of publishing, the campaign had raised just over $1,500.
InterConnection founder Charles Brennick told GeekWire the van was parked in the loading area of its Fremont headquarters when one or a group of individuals broke into it over the holiday weekend. They were able to break the van’s steering wheel lock and drive off with it.
It was then used in a “major robbery,” he said, quoting the Seattle Police Department. Although the SPD wasn’t able to confirm what exactly had happened, the damage to the van indicates the robbers attempted to steal a large, heavy item, Brennick said.
He said the roof of the van had been ripped apart, as had the sheeting on the bottom of the van’s cargo area. The damage was so extensive that the vehicle was left completely unusable, leaving InterConnection in the lurch.
“Our whole organization depends on donated equipment and surplus computers,” Brennick said, “and if we can’t go out and pick it up, we’re basically depending on people to drop stuff off. And that’s inconvenient for a lot of people, and the businesses won’t do it, they want you to come pick it up.”
Brennick said there are also challenges to replacing the van because the model, an extended cargo van, is popular with construction workers and contractors. Seattle’s booming construction scene means they are in high demand.
If the crowdfunding campaign meets its goal, the nonprofit will be able to buy a completely new van to haul its donated computer equipment, and if the campaign falls short they may still be able to purchase a used van.
InterConnection collects donated computer equipment from businesses and other organizations around Seattle, refurbishes the equipment, and sells it to nonprofits and NGOs at a heavy discount.
Since its founding in 1999, the organization has impacted 500,000 lives in countries all over the world with this equipment and other public service projects that it collaborates on. The nonprofit employs 25 at its headquarters in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.