LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the organization Secure the Call to provide free emergency cell phones to people in need.

“When something is going on and an emergency is happening — whether it’s a criminal matter or simply needing an ambulance — they need to be able to make that call,” explained Courtney Snow with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office is accepting donations of unwanted, uncracked cell phones that still work. They will send those phones to Secure the Call, which wipes them clean of any personal information allowing them to be used only to call 911. The phones will then be distributed throughout Laurens County.

“This is a rural town,” said Snow. “There are people who don’t live in the city limits of Laurens or maybe have access to a phone. I think this is very essential in making sure that people have access to emergency communications.”

The phones will be sent to the organizations Family Promise and South Carolina Empowerment Center to be distributed to people who are experiencing homeless and living in poverty.

“When we see that rent is going up, we also notice that food is going up,” said Mary Lynn Tollison. “Families need to prioritize rent, utilities and food. Oftentimes, the phone is not one of those services.”

The phones will also be sent to the Laurens County Safe Home, which supports survivors of domestic violence.

“This gives them a safe, secure way to reach out for help when they know the time is safe,” said Dawn Ardelt, the Executive Director of The Safe Home.

Ardelt explained that in abusive relationships, many partners track or break a person’s cellphone so they can not reach out for help. She said the emergency phones will be a “lifeline” for survivors.

“They understand the abusive partner much better than we do,” said Ardelt. “Giving them the tool allows them to call when it is safe for them to talk.”

How to receive emergency phone

To receive one of the phones, a person must receive a referral from The Safe Home, Family Promise, South Carolina Empowerment Center, a school district or the Department of Social Services.

They can also reach out to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office directly by calling 864-984-4967.

How to donate phone

Anyone interested in donating a cellphone or charger can take them to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.