• 66°

Free cell phones for those in need

Tamika Caldwell went inside M&L Mini Stop and walked away with a free cell phone.

She was able to take advantage of a federal program that enables people to receive a pre-paid wireless service plan through cell provider Access Wireless.

Access Wireless representatives began assisting eligible people earlier this week. Representatives will be on hand at the store, located at 1130 N. Main St., from noon-5 p.m. through Dec. 20.

Contrary to what some may believe, the Lifeline Program did not originate with President Barack Obama. The program began in 1985 and allows someone who receives public assistance to get a discounted phone plan or free wireless minutes. The program is managed by the Federal Communications Commission.

The program was initially enacted by Congress during the Reagan administration. In 2005, the FCC expanded the program from landlines to include low-cost prepaid wireless programs, said Mark Wigfield, a Federal Communications Commission spokesman.

The program is evenly divided, with half of the people using wireless and the other half landlines, he said.

“All they do is provide a $9.25 a month discount on phone service. Some wireless providers have chosen to offer the service at a price that the subsidy pretty much covers, which makes it free for the consumer,” Wigfield said.

Caldwell thought the program was good because “everybody can’t afford a cell.”

Only one phone is allowed per household, which is any person or group of people who live together at the same address and share income and expenses. No person can have a phone through another cell provider. The other cell providers offering the program are Safelink, Assurance and Reachout Wireless.

People who are eligible must receive one of the following services and provide proof: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program (NSLP), or Federal Public Housing Assistance Section 8.

Eligibility will be determined immediately, Access Wireless representative Hanah Hong said.

All you have to do is fill out a form, and if you qualify, you get to walk away with a cell phone.

Hong said if they’ve never participated in the program before, most people likely will be eligible.

A friend told Rodney Peguese about the phones so he stopped to inquire.

“That’s pretty good to me. I hope I get one. I do need one,” Peguese said while waiting in line.

He did qualify and left with a phone.

Everett Myers said he receives disability benefits and could use a phone.

“You never know when a break-in or something will happen,” he said.

Sandra Jackson brought her brother-in-law, James Jackson, and daughter, Tyauna Jones, to apply for the program.

“I think this is a good program, especially for people with disabilities.

“It provides means of being able to communicate,” she said.

Her oldest daughter saw the sign in front of the store and told Sandra about it.

She said more people need to take advantage of this program.

“There’s a lot of disabled people that don’t know about it,” she said.

Each year the customer has to re-certify their Lifeline service. If the customer does not respond by the deadline, the discount will be eliminated.

For more information about the Lifeline Program, visit www.fcc.gov/lifeline

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Pedestrian hospitalized after being struck by police car

Local

Torch Run returns to Rowan streets, raises money for Special Olympics

Crime

Fish arcade company drops suit against Rowan County Sheriff’s Office

Crime

Man faces kidnapping, assault charges after woman escapes at Webb Road Flea Market

Local

Natoli promoted to assistant county manager, will retain human resources director title

Education

Attendance restriction lifted for RSS graduation ceremonies

Business

Rowan Chamber of Commerce will host in-person Power in Partnership on Thursday

Business

Rowan EDC will undergo name change, alter board requirements with updates to bylaws

Nation/World

Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Nation/World

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Nation/World

Biden boosting world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline