Donated Educational Software Brings Smiles to Children; Among 1,500 Hurricane Katrina Survivors Sheltered at Austin Convention Center

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Local based education reseller Sprysoft coordinates donation of children's software from leading education publishers Sunburst Technology and Inspiration Software to computer lab where kids can forget their troubles.

Hundreds of children among an estimated 1,500 Hurricane Katrina survivors still housed at the Austin Convention Center found a happy escape from reality in educational software that was donated to their shelter over the weekend. Based nearby in Pflugerville, TX, education reseller Sprysoft Corporation made it happen by coordinating a donation of 25 different children's software titles used in schools from Sunburst Technology as well as Inspiration® and Kidspiration® software from Inspiration Software®, Inc., installing the software and training volunteers staffing the computer lab. The companies licensed enough copies of the software to all of the 40+ computers at the shelter with a total retail value of approximately $50,000.

"The survivors have so many needs -- I feel that anybody who has a talent or knowledge they can use to help them and time to do it, should be compelled to do so," said Sprysoft Chief Executive Officer Ben Finklea. "This was something small on the scale of things that I could do to help. People there are focused on just surviving, but the kids have no outlet for their energy. The software gives them something to do, since they have absolutely nothing. The educational games are a positive outlet that keeps them occupied in a safe environment."

During a time when many people are asking themselves how they can help survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Finklea, CEO of local education reseller Sprysoft, found the answer during a television news broadcast about the shelter at the Austin Convention Center. When he heard that hardware companies had donated laptop computers for the survivors to use, he realized that they didn't have any software for the children. Immediately, he called his contacts at the companies that make the educational software Sprysoft sells to schools to see if they would be willing to donate software. Sunburst Technology and Inspiration Software both agreed to donate their software and rushed shipments to him. After making arrangements with the shelter, Finklea packed the software into his car on Saturday and drove there. He worked with the on-site technicians all day Saturday to install the software programs on 20 computers.

The computers were then set up in a room at the Convention Center designated for children's use. Almost immediately, every seat was filled and volunteers were helping children, ages 5 and up, play fun, educational activities used in schools that teach math, reading, science, multimedia storytelling, and more. Children who come home from school to the Convention Center and have nothing more than a cot or mattress and a cardboard box to hold all of their belongings were thrilled to escape reality in a variety of learning adventures on the computer.

The youngest children practiced their consonants to help an artist paint a masterpiece in Key Skills for Reading: Spelling and Phonics by Sunburst, went on a dinosaur dig in Learn About Life Science: Dinosaurs by Sunburst, and created their own picture stories with Kidspiration. Older children practiced math as they took on roles as business entrepreneurs running their own hot dog stands or bands with Sunburst's Hot Dog Stand: The Works and Concert Tour Entrepreneur, and went on time travel missions, exploring the world while building keyboarding skills with Type to Learn 3.

"Hurricane survivors have enough to worry about right now without having to worry about what their kids are going to do at the shelter with their free time or after school," said Mike Gavelek, Sunburst Vice President of Marketing. "At least we could draw on our strengths to help ease that burden and direct their children's attention to learning and furthering their educations. Since schools all over the country use our software programs, many of these children know them from school and hopefully will be comforted by something familiar."

Company Background

Founded in September 2001, education reseller Sprysoft Corporation is dedicated to helping students, educators and schools save as much money as possible on technology. By acting as a liaison between the academic community and the business world, Sprysoft has been able to help build stronger, more fiscally sound schools and smarter, better-skilled students.

Sunburst Technology publishes award-winning instructional software and the online learning environment for the K-12 school market. For information, Sunburst can be reached at 800-321-7511 or by visiting Top selling Sunburst titles include HyperStudio®, Type to Learn, Hot Dog Stand: The Works, Easy Book Deluxe, and A to Zap! The publisher, a company of Thayer Capital Partners, is headquartered in Elgin, IL, with its development center in Valhalla, NY.

Inspiration Software®, Inc. ( is recognized as the leader in visual thinking and learning. It develops and publishes innovative software tools that inspire learners of all ages to brainstorm, organize, plan and create. With more than 15 million users worldwide, its award-winning software is revolutionizing visual learning in education—inspiring students to develop strong thinking and organizational skills and improve their academic performance.

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