Chromebook giveaway aims to bridge digital divide for kids in Wilmington

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Markevis Gideon displays one of the devices his company gave to Kingswood preschoolers. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Markevis Gideon displays one of the devices his company gave to Kingswood preschoolers. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

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Alison Mendez picks up a pink backpack that holds a refurbished Chromebook and goodie bags for her first-grader Nani.

It’s a gift from the computer repair firm NerdITNow, which held the giveaway this week for a few dozen kids who attend preschool and other programs at Kingswood Community Center in northeast Wilmington.

“I have WiFi but I don’t have computer access for my daughter to be able to finish her work’’ for remote schooling, Mendez said from behind her facemask. “Computers are kind of expensive and it really helps. I have my phone and it’s not the same because everything is a lot smaller.”

Adrienne Davis, who heads the preschool program at Kingswood, shows Alison Mendez the Chromebook. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

With schools closed in Delaware for at least the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic, many children from low-income families are without access to the technology they use in class.

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So NerdITNow owner Markevis Gideon — who once lived in Wilmington’s public housing development in Riverside and frequented the neighboring Kingswood — decided to bring the digital world to more than 100 kids living in the city.

“For me to be able to donate back into the community which has given so much to me is just a blessing,’’ Gideon said while he and staff members prepared to distribute the devices. “I understand how much there is a digital divide in the area and we’re just trying to help close that as much as we can.”

Destinee Hardy was grateful to get a Chromebook for her 5-year-old daughter Miracle.

The Chromebook will propel the child “so she can be big girl school ready,’’ Hardy said. “Now she’s part of the day care program [at Kingswood] so that laptop will help her build her cognitive skills, vocabulary, sight words, things like that.”

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