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Lackawanna County CARES Act funding buys laptops for virtual students

Federal funds paid for 50 laptops for students learning at Boys & Girls Club in Scranton

SCRANTON, Pa. — In order to safely social distance, Lackawanna County officials met a few members of the Boys and Girls Club outside Tuesday along Ash Street in Scranton to deliver a belated Christmas present —50 brand-new laptops.

The afterschool club has turned into a place where dozens of kids spend their virtual school day.

"We've always had computers, and you know, we let kids use them to complete any work assignments. We never thought they'd be getting used eight hours a day, quite honestly. It's wonderful that each kid who comes here will be able to come here and utilize an assigned computer every single day for their schoolwork," said the club's executive director Tricia DiBiasi Thomas.

Earlier in the school year, each student would have to bring their own laptop or tablet. While school districts provide them, in many cases, siblings have to share.

The laptops were purchased by Lackawanna County with federal CARES Act funding.

"This is the part of the job that I really love, knowing that we're giving to kids, there's nothing better than that," Lackawanna County Commissioner Debi Domenick said.

The laptops for the Boys and Girls Club were purchased with the last of the CARES Act funding given to Lackawanna County. In all, $19 million was distributed.

"We didn't give it to just one area. We focused on broadband. We focused on small businesses. We focused on nonprofits. We feel that we did do a great job in distributing the money in an impactful way," said Brenda Sacco, Lackawanna County's director of economic development.

The county had until the end of 2020 to spend the $19 million. The county's Economic Development Office made sure every penny was spent.

"We knew very early on that we weren't going to give any money back, but we wanted to be impactful," Sacco added.

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