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Program looks to provide free phones to qualifying residents in west central Minnesota

Representatives with Free Phone MN were in the area to help residents receive free phones. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR — Plugged in and charging, cell phones covered a table top Tuesday at Heartland Community Action Agency in Willmar as their prospective owners spoke with representatives from Free Phone MN.

As the organization’s name indicates, the phones distributed at Heartland Tuesday, the St. Cloud library today and throughout the state are free.

So are 250 minutes of airtime each month for those who qualify, said Deb Brandt, Heartland’s community services director.

“This is our pilot run at it,” Brandt said of the phone distribution Tuesday.

The cell phones are useful for people who need them but can’t afford them, Brandt explained.

“The elderly who have come through who don’t have a phone,” Brandt said. “They can use them for safety and to stay in contact with their family.”

Not having a phone also makes it difficult for someone trying to find a job, she added.

Heartland will offer the free phones again in the fall at the community connection event the agency holds with Bethel Lutheran Church in downtown Willmar, Brandt said.

More information is available online at

Gary Miller

Gary Miller is a Designer for Forum Communications Co. Born and attended public schools in Willmar, Minn. Served 20 years in U.S. Navy as a photojournalist. Worked at West Central Tribune and Forum Communications since retiring from the Navy in 1994.

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