At the end of the last school year, the U.S. Department of State donated about $100,000 in computer equipment to West Elementary School in Petworth. While faculty and parents marveled at the shiny new flat-screens and keyboards, there was one problem: The 39 used computers the diplomat corps donated didn’t have hard drives. They were taken out for security reasons, leaving the flashy new stuff useless.

So at a back-to-school event on Sept. 14, West announced an “adopt-a-computer program,” asking parents and the community for hard drive and software money—a $200 donation is needed to get each computer up to speed. Janet Myers, West’s PTA president, says so far about 10 have been adopted for the school’s nearly 200 students. Myers hopes all the computers will be ready by January and says she isn’t disappointed with the extra work.

“We understood the nature of the business of the State Department.”