Enviva assists Northampton children and families during COVID-19 pandemic

Published 11:18 am Friday, April 24, 2020

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This week, Enviva – a leading global energy company specializing in sustainable wood bioenergy – will deliver laptops to the Northampton County School District as part of the company’s community outreach efforts in the county.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, about one-in-five teens ages 13 to 17 said they are often unable to complete homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection.

With the reality of North Carolina schools going to an online curriculum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Northampton County High School Athletic Director Al Bennett reached out to Enviva on behalf of the entire school district, which serves more than 1,700 students, to request the company help bridge the connectivity gap in the county.

Now in place, WiFi hotspots donated by Enviva provide much-needed internet access to hundreds of Northampton County students seeking access to the web to complete their required online courses.

In continuation of this initial outreach and in close coordination with State Senator and Northampton native Erica Smith, Enviva will also provide laptops to students who lack access to a computer. The computers will be delivered to Northampton County High School this week where they will be dispersed to underprivileged students on a case-by-case basis.

While the shift to online instruction places additional burdens on families with school age children, the crisis is also imminent to local food pantries and their ability to respond to the growing demand of young families and senior citizens. With unemployment nearing 6 percent in Northampton County alone, Enviva became a sponsor of the Northampton Mobile Pantry after learning about the initiative from State Representative Michael Wray of Gaston and Northampton County Commissioner Charles Tyner. The Northampton Mobile Pantry serves 150 to 200 families each month and collaborates with over a dozen churches to accommodate the community’s diverse needs.

“We are grateful to Enviva for being good corporate partners,” stated Rep. Wray. “The Mobile Pantry provides a valuable service to our citizens throughout Northampton County.

“Working together is the only way we are going to win this crisis. This is the time for our families, our community leaders, and our business leaders to come together to find solutions,” Wray added.

Similarly, through its partnerships with various Northampton County community leaders, Enviva will be delivering essential items to local senior citizens who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus if they leave their homes.

“We appreciate the partnerships that are making a difference in our community. Northampton Strong – together we are one,” said Tony Burnette, community leader.

In appreciation for the heroic individuals fighting the coronavirus on the frontlines, Enviva is sponsoring a local luncheon, organized by Commissioner Tyner, for first responders today (Friday, April 24) at The Grill in Garysburg.

When asked “why Northampton?” Chris Brown, Community Manager at Enviva replied, “At Enviva, we’re committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work. In today’s unprecedented times, we’re proud to be able to keep our Northampton plant, and other plants across the U.S. Southeast, open and to assist with community needs where we can.”