An estimated 500 million cell phones are lying unused in the
junk drawers across the United States, said Steve Hopwood, Phones
for Charity program coordinator. But because of programs that
donate phones to domestic violence victims, these phones could be
put to use saving lives.

October is National Violence Prevention Month, and a number of
national organizations are responding by collecting unused phones.
Because the phones are not connected to a paid service, they are
only capable of dialing 911. The organizations then hand the phones
out to women who have been victims of domestic assault for use in
emergencies.

“It provides a sense of safety and security for battered
women,” said Kelly Cichy, Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center program director.

The programs hope to reduce the 3 million cases of domestic
violence that occur in the United States annually. Each year, women
are the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including
about 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults, the Bureau of Justice
Statistics reported.

“Any program that assists victims in situations of
domestic violence is beneficial,” said Charlotte Dematteo,
member of the Ann Arbor Domestic Violence Unit.

Companies such as AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Cingular take
back old phones to give to charities. HopeLine, a Verizon Wireless
program specifically intended to refurbish phones, sells them and
uses the funds to donate airtime to victims of domestic
violence.

At the beginning of next year, Hopwood said, federal legislation
will require that every major carrier and cell phone manufacturer
have a recycling program. Last month, California was the first
state to pass such legislation.

Until federal law is passed, those who want to donate rely
mostly on programs that are not affiliated with a major
carrier.

SAPAC accepts phones on behalf of SAFE House, an off-campus
provider of sexual assault and domestic violence services.

‘They’re always looking for phones,” Cichy
said. “It would be great if more students donated.”

LSA freshman Henry Julicher donated his used phone last
Thanksgiving at Cranbrook-Kingswood High School in Bloomfield
Hills, Mich.

“You get rid of your old cell phones lying around at home
and help women at need,” Julicher said. “I get a cell
phone about every two years, and I definitely plan to donate
again.”

In honor of American Recycles Day on Nov. 15, the Department of
Public Safety plans to distribute drop boxes in libraries for
students to recycle small electronic items, including cell
phones.

“Some of those phones might end up with shelters,”
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said.

DPS does not collect donated cell phones, but it has distributed
phones to victims of stalkers, Brown said.

Another charity is Secure the Call, which teamed up this month
with Albertsons, one of the world’s largest food and drug
retailers, to collect and donate phones.

“We anticipate a successful drive while creating awareness
of domestic violence,” Secure the Call President Volante
Williams said in a written statement. “In addition to
providing a needed service to those without a cell phone, Secure
the Call’s program keeps phones out of the local
landfills.”

Many of the programs serve dual purposes. Some also raise money
for various charities by accepting phones and then selling them in
addition to redistributing phones for emergency calls. Others
recycle phones to protect the environment.

A new website,
“http://www.recyclewirelessphones.com”>recyclewirelessphones.com,
can help those interested to find a place to donate a phone.

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