Saskatoon business working to keep people connected during coronavirus pandemic

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WATCH: Bolt Mobile is repairing broken phones and donating them to hospitals and retirement homes so families can keep in touch – Apr 7, 2020

Bolt Mobile is sanitizing, refurbishing and donating cellphones and tablets during the coronavirus pandemic so families, forced apart because of self-isolation or quarantine can stay in touch.

“We’re asking the public and the community to dig into those junk drawers and closets and give us any device you can,” said Kevin Kindrachuk, Bolt’s marketing director.

He said Bolt would take any WiFi-enabled phone with a camera, whether it’s an iPhone, Android or anything else.

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Then the employees fix the device — including repairing screens — download video messaging apps and deliver it, for free.

Kindrachuk said they’ve received 75 phones so far, and added 25 of their own.

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“We’re donating them to hospitals, to care homes, we’ve even donated some to some schools for at-risk youth,” Kindrachuk told Global News.

He told Global News they’ve made several deliveries in Saskatoon and a few to Kindersley and Regina.

READ MORE: Supporting seniors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic

Kindrachuk said the program is called ‘Operation Lifeline.’

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It’s been one for Dawn Heck. She moved her 78-year-old father Keith Davidson into Parkridge Centre, a long-term care home in Saskatoon, just as the pandemic hit the province and the centre stopped allowing visitors as a precaution.

“He was getting used to the new residence, new staff, new everything there and then all of a sudden his family was taken away,” she said.

She described it as a horrible situation “at the best of times” but said still be able to see his family helped his anxiety.

Now, thanks to Operation Lifeline, she speaks to him every day.

“One time we were on FaceTime together, he reached out and was waving at me,” she said.

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“He was making that connection.”

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Bolt Mobile is based in Saskatoon but has received requests for phones from all over the province and even Alberta.

Kindrachuk said the group is committed to helping everyone and will pay to have the phones shipped wherever they’re needed.

Anyone wishing to donate a phone can visit Bolt’s website or call ahead to drop off the device at one of the stores. Staff will pick up the phone or tablet outside the store, in order to maintain social distancing, but ask they be delivered in a sealed plastic bag.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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