Social work students collect old cell phones to help senior citizens

So far, the social work students have collected approximately 100 cell phones. From left to right

Senior citizens of Campbell County will have better access to emergency services thanks to a group of social work students from Northern Kentucky University.

The group, working in partnership with local law enforcement and senior agencies, is asking students and area residents to donate old cell phones and chargers that will then be redistributed to seniors who meet a few basic criteria.

The cell phones will only be able to dial 911 and there is no fee for the service.

Partnering with the students is a community group called Triad, which consists of area chiefs of police, the sheriffs’ office and Senior Services of Northern Kentucky, a local senior organization.

Triad was formed several years ago to help seniors and law enforcement prevent senior criminal victimization.

Sally Schaefer, social work major and group leader, said many seniors can’t afford cell phones and often have difficulty summoning help when they are away from a regular phone. “They can carry them with them in their car or if they go out to work in the yard, anything like that,” said Schaefer.

The phones can be used free of charge because all cell phones, as long as they are charged, can call 911. It is not necessary to buy minutes, pay for a plan or even reconfigure the phones. Once the phone is turned on, you just push in 911; there won’t be a dial tone.

Pat Schneider, Triad’s community education coordinator, said she sees it as a great way to help seniors. “I really believe that it’s a good way for seniors to have access to emergency services; to help or assist in a crisis, especially for individuals who can’t afford this on their own.”

Once the students have the program up and running, senior volunteers will take over the collecting and distributing process.

Criteria for eligibility are you must be over 62 years old and have an income of less than $800.00 per month minus medical expenses.

Collection has already begun through several churches and police departments. So far, there have been approximately 100 phones donated.

The first distribution date will be April 5 at the Campbell County Senior building in Highland Heights. Donation centers in the area include: First Baptist Church of Cold Spring, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell County Police Station, Newport Police Station, Highland Heights Baptist Church, and NKU.

To donate at NKU, bring the phone to the University Center information desk. Be sure to bring the home based charger and any car chargers you no longer use.

“Donate cell phones,” Schaefer urged. “We need them.”