SYKES donates computers

SYKES Enterprises in Morristown donated 200 computers to the Cocke County School District on Friday. From left to right, Michael Ervin, Cocke County School District computer technician, Zachary Holt, Cocke County School District computer technician, Feather L. Payne, SYKES area operations recruiting manager, Steve Rex, account manager and Micheal Emery-Howard, staff trainer.

SYKES Enterprises gave Cocke County School District some much-needed supplies on Friday.

At its location on West Andrew Johnson Highway in Morristown, SYKES representatives donated 200 computers to the district. District technicians Michael Ervin and Zachary Holt were on hand to receive the units, and Ervin said the county is thankful for the donation.

“(SYKES) called the school system, the school system called me and I called (SYKES Area Operations Recruiting Manager Feather Payne),” Ervin said. “It was a real shot in the arm.

“Some of those computers in the classrooms are nine or 10 years old, so we really needed the upgrades.”

Ervin also said the computers will used throughout the county, starting where they’re needed the most – the elementary schools.

“We have plans on replacing the computers at the labs at Grassy Fork Elementary,” he said. “We’re also replacing the computers at the alternative school, so that’s around 50 computers right there.

“The rest of the computers will be spread around the rest of the schools in the county.”

Payne said basic computer skills are paramount to today’s job market, especially in the Lakeway Area, and donations to areas like Cocke County are very important to improving those skills.

“It’s about SYKES giving back,” she said. “Seeing people fail our basic computer skills test to work here distresses us, so we want to start teaching those skills early.

“We see a lot of our employees come from Cocke County, and we want to show we’re just as invested in those kids as we are in the kids of Hamblen County.”

SYKES Morristown takes inbound calls from Intuit TurboTax customers, and is especially busy around tax season. Every three to five years, the company upgrades its computers. However, instead of sending the old units to the scrap heap, SYKES chose to give these computers a second chance.

“We’re moving all our computers to Windows 10. (The old computers) were hardwired for Windows 7,” said Austin Wolfe, system administrator. “We wanted to donate those computers instead of disposing of them like the company did in the past because these computers still have life left in them.”

Cocke County is one of the poorest counties in the state, so Ervin has had to do as much as he can over the years with very little resources. He has made social media requests over the last 18 months for assistance, and he has received some help from East Tennessee State University in the form of computers and other systems worth nearly $100,000.

The SYKES donation is just one more step to helping boost the county’s educational and technological capabilities for its students.

“We’re really super-excited. Technology dollars don’t usually go toward new computers,” said Ervin, who has been with the school district since 1999. “This is the last year we were going to get any usability out of (our existing computers), so this couldn’t have come at a better time.”