Those in need can call for help

Published 1:22 pm Thursday, July 10, 2008

Senior citizens and abused citizens who can not afford a cell phone for emergency calls will now have access to a free cell phone.

The cell phones will be capable only of calling 911 for assistance but will be free of charge under the Cell Phone Bank program.

Cell phones will be collected by the Picayune Police Department. Community Officer Monica Jacobsen is the department’s contact person for dropping off and applying for phones. Jacobsen can be contacted by calling the Picayune Police Department at 601-798-7411 ext. 111.

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Victims of abuse and senior citizens who are unable to afford a cell phone will be eligible to receive the free cell phones.

“They would be able to have a cell phone where they could dial 911,” Chief Jim Luke said. “I think we take for granted that everyone has a cell phone. But you got some people that may not be able to afford cell phones.”

These phones would afford needy people the opportunity to make calls during emergencies, Luke said.

Eligible citizens will receive a cell phone capable of dialing 911, a battery and a charger, Jacobsen said.

Community members with old cell phones are asked to donate those phones for the program. Old phones will be sent to the Phone Bank where they will be refurbished and distributed to those in need of them, Luke said. If a community member inside the city limits has a phone they would like to donate and does not have the opportunity to drop it off, a patrolling officer could come pick up the phone upon request, Luke said.

Luke said that elderly citizens 65 and older are six times less likely to leave their homes after dark. These cell phones would help them feel more comfortable after dark and lead more independent lives.

About 15 of the police department’s old cell phones will be donated to the Phone Bank, Luke said. Those phones were left over from when the department switched phone companies.