A community fundraising appeal to buy laptops and digital tablets for schoolchildren generated more than £1,000 within 24 hours of its launch.
Adam Mackay, managing director of Mackay Property Agents, of Bell Street, Sawbridgeworth, is spearheading the initiative, dubbed Computers for Kids.
The aim is to prevent pupils in Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford from losing out during lockdown-enforced school closures.
Adam and his team felt compelled to help after hearing reports that a vast amount of children are unable to attend their virtual lessons because they do not have access to desktops, laptops or tablets.
Despite a reliance on remote learning, Ofcom — the UK's communications regulator - estimates that between 1.14 million and 1.76 million children do not have access to a computer.
"Myself and my team wanted to do something positive to help children in our area who, through no fault of their own or their school's, may be missing out on learning," said Adam.
"We need to invest in our future generations, especially during this pandemic. Just one device that gives a child a chance to keep learning during lockdown is invaluable."
Adam set up a GoFundMe page to amass donations to buy new devices and he kicked things off with a £500 contribution. He also appealed to the community for donations of old, unwanted laptops and. with the help of fellow Bell Street business Tecnic04u, these are being refurbished and distributed to local schools in need.
Support for the campaign has sky-rocketed. "We've bought over 20 new tablets to donate to schools," said Adam. "In only a matter of days we've been inundated with donations of devices and raised £1,680 so far."
Sawbridgeworth's deputy mayor, Cllr Greg Rattey. has assisted in the campaign by contacting Reedings Junior School, Mandeville Primary School and High Wych CE Primary School to ask if they needed any devices — and all of them eagerly accepted
"I really commend [Adam] for what he's doing." said Cllr Rattey. "He's such a community-spirited man. We're really lucky to have him in Sawbridgeworth. He's always at the forefront of the community."
Reedings has already received a delivery of digital tablets, While Mandeville and High Wych are due to receive theirs soon. Leventhorpe School and Northgate Primary School in Stortford are also set to benefit. Adam hopes to send out at least 50 devices this week.
"The schools have all been so grateful and I'm very proud of my team for helping us with thiscampaign." said Adam.
Other business owners are doing their bit to help local schools. Dinesh 'Don' Patel. a town councillor who owns The Tuck Shop convenience store in Bell Street, has bought five laptops for Reedings.
He and wife Smita reached out to Reedings and Leventhorpe to see if they needed any devices. and the former jumped at the offer. "We put our hands in our pockets and we bought five because five [children in need) got identified," said Don.
Anyone wanting to donate an old laptop to the Mackay Property Agents campaign as well as any schools in need should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishop’s Stortford Independent