Start small: When I first started this project I was in 8th grade. I started out by just collecting a few dead machines from my tech teacher just to experiment with and see what I could do. Eventually, if there were a few spare computers lying around, I would be able to restore successfully one or two, and then I would just give them to a student who I knew needed one. I kept it local, within the school, and small scale. Now, you obviously don’t have to start this when you are in 8th grade, but still start small. Talk to your school’s IT administrator to see if they have any spare computers that you could have. Usually they do!
Start creating a parts inventory. Your job is going to require you to have lots of spare parts, and surprisingly, many old computer parts are universal. Old laptops that have been smashed, or are completely beyond repair usually have functional RAM memory, Hard Drives, wireless cards, and sometimes a good screen. Salvage EVERYTHING YOU CAN! (I find the old school Spacemaker boxes are the perfect size for storing Wireless cards and RAM memory)
ANCIENT ISN”T BAD! Don’t be picky on your computers! They all work for the purpose of this project. People are not going to give you a brand new working machine for your service project. The idea is they give you something that’s usually around 3-7 years old; you can restore these computers to accomplish basic functions such as accessing the internet, creating a Word, Powerpoint, or spreadsheet, and checking email. That’s all these machines have to do. My cutoff for machines is usually early XP/Late Windows 98 (if they have a sticker for compatibility with XP). These machines usually have just enough power left in them to accomplish these simple tasks and still have driver support from most manufacturers. Anything above and beyond this works.
(P.S. I strongly recommend getting a good set of pliers, Allan wrenches, and a full set of screwdrivers…manufacturers are sneaky and use some strange screws to keep people out of their systems.)