Natchez – The nonprofit Magnolia Medical Foundation will distribute free cellphones or tablets and home COVID-19 test kits to people who meet certain criteria on March 24, 25 and 26 in Natchez.
This includes anyone 18 or older with an income of less than $56,000, Magnolia Medical Corporation Dr. Erica Quinn-Thompson said during a special meeting of the Natchez Adams School Board of Trustees.
“That’s a lot of people in Natchez,” she said, adding, “If you receive SNAP benefits or are on Medicaid, you automatically meet the criteria.”
Thompson said the distribution is federally funded.
I asked the school board if it could use Natchez Freshman Academy at 208 Lynda Lee Drive as a distribution point for tablets, cell phones and home test kits on Saturday, March 26, which the board approved unanimously.
Thompson said she has already obtained permission from the Adams County Board of Supervisors to distribute the materials for free on March 24 and 25 at Providence Community Center at 230 River Terminal Road. She added that the distribution continues from 10 am to 6 pm in both locations.
“The presence of these sites will allow us to take an area of the area,” she said.
Thompson said they are looking to deliver nearly 1,000 tablets and mobile phones over the weekend and can order more if they run out.
“We’ll be able to ship some products back to us in case we need more. I’m sure we probably will.”
If we don’t have the tablets there, we can process everyone’s orders and come back and do another drop.”
Every tablet and cell phone will be equipped with a free five-year wireless internet plan through T Mobile, Thompson said, adding that recipients can choose either a cell phone or a tablet but not both. She added that there will also be Spanish and Vietnamese translators at the event.
“They can use it for school, for their job, or to play a game,” Thompson said.
She said the limit is one device for each individual 18 years of age or older who meets the eligibility criteria.
Each recipient must bring a valid ID, whether a driver’s license, official ID, passport or CDL, and proof of income. These may be the individual’s last three pay slips, a W2 2020 form, a 1099 form, 2020 taxes, proof that they have received a Pell Grant, a food stamp, a SNAP benefits card, a Medicaid card, a Children’s Medicaid or SSI or SSA 2021 Award Letter.
Each recipient will also need to provide their phone number, the last four digits of their Social Security number, and email.
Thompson, a Natchezian native, said the Magnolia Medical Foundation’s goal is to address health and social disparities in communities like Natchez through a range of community programs through various partnerships and grant resources.
Founded in 2009, the institution has five locations throughout Mississippi including one at 301 E. Franklin Street in Natchez.
“We realize that many things require access to the Internet, from finding a job or getting an education to healthcare,” she said. “We have noticed that a lot of vaccination sites require recipients to make their appointment online and not many people have had that possibility. This program provides access to the outside world for people in rural communities who lack access to the Internet.”
Thompson said the smartphone and tablet endowment is one of many programs Magnolia Medical uses to fill community needs. They’ve also worked with the Mississippi Food Network and the American Heart Association to distribute food boxes to families and provide other health and workforce training services to help people buy their first home.
“We’ve distributed over 20,000 pounds of food in the past two months,” she said. “We are also HUD certified to help with housing loans. … If Magnolia doesn’t have what you need, we can refer to several of our partners located across the state.”
More information about the Magnolia Medical Foundation, including ways to donate to the foundation or volunteer, can be found at www.magmedfound.org. For more information about gifts of cell phones, tablets, and home testing kits for COVID-19 on March 24, 25, and 26, call 228-343-1315 or 769-524-8002.