Retired computer technician Raymond “Ray” Norman is offering a holiday gift to the masses: free computer repairs for elderly or disabled residents of East Multnomah County until Christmas.

Just down on your luck? Provide a donation, whatever you can afford, and he'll fix your broken computer, too.

Norman used to make $150 an hour traveling the country making computer repairs. He also volunteered at a short-lived computer recycling center in Gresham on Powell Boulevard, which closed when the lease got too expensive.

Norman, 63, is still a whiz with computers and has always been willing to lend a hand when a computer goes belly up.

One man gave Norman a 103-ounce can of black beans in exchange for a computer repair. It sits on the bookshelf next to his computer desk in his Gresham apartment.

Usually, it's a matter of user error, which doesn't cost a cent to fix, Norman said. Even real repairs rarely cost more than $25 for a part.

“I don't think this will make the big computer places very happy but who cares?” he asked.

Computers often are the only way elderly people can communicate with their children and grandchildren across the country, he said.

And those who are disabled may not have the mobility needed to get out and about to communicate with people in person. Plus, it keeps perfectly good computers out of landfills.

“Besides, I can,” he said. “Why doesn't everyone do this? Yes, it's unusual, but why does it have to be? If everybody would do a little bit, no one would have to do a lot,” he said.

If you're a mechanic, fix someone's car for free.

Like to bake? Bring a plate of holiday cheer to an elderly neighbor or someone you know is struggling financially.

Norman has a small band of like-minded computer geeks/elves at the ready to help, including his nephew, Tery Myers, if he is overwhelmed by requests. He can be reached at 971-279-0995.

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