Thursday, April 8, 2004

Your used cell phone has value to fund-raisers

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Michael Davenport (left) of U.S. Bank and Steve Strathmann of Volunteers of America are asking people to donate cell phones.
Old cell phones could benefit about 100 local children.

A cell phone recycling program launched Wednesday is intended to generate cash for two organizations:

• Maud Booth Academy, a charter school serving underprivileged children from empowerment zones in Cincinnati: Avondale, Corryville, Evanston, Fairview-Clifton Heights, Mount Auburn, Over-the-Rhine, Queensgate, Walnut Hills and West End.

• CAN-Do Resource Center, a community drug prevention program that provides children with a safe and healthy environment conducive to learning.

The recycling program will also keep cell phones - along with the mercury and other dangerous chemicals in them - out of landfills, where those chemicals can leach into the soil and ground water, program advocates said.

Steve Strathmann, vice president of development for the Ohio River Valley affiliate of Volunteers of America, said he hopes to collect 50,000 phones before the April 30 deadline. Each phone will fetch between $3 and $9.

Idle cell phones donated to the recycling program can be dropped off at:
• Any Skyline Chili restaurant. On Monday, anyone bringing a cell phone to the location at Fourth and Sycamore streets, downtown, will receive a free cheese coney.
• Any Cincinnati Bell store.
• Any U.S. Bank branch.
About 80 percent of the phones will be refurbished and resold in both the United States and developing countries. The rest will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

There are an estimated 200 million idle cell phones in the United States. That number is expected to grow by 130 million annually.

"This program is a wonderful opportunity for people to donate something they most likely want to get rid of and benefit our kids tremendously," Strathmann said. "The money raised will enable children (to have) access to great education and an after-school resource center."

It also will help the charter school find a new home in a refurbished building in Over-the-Rhine, Strathmann said.

The recycling program is sponsored by U.S. Bank, Skyline Chili and Cincinnati Bell. The used cell phones can be dropped off at any of the sponsors' locations.

"These programs are wonderful avenues to enrich the lives of children who face challenges that they should not have to," Michael Davenport, branch manager of U.S. Bank, said of the educational programs.

All hand-held cellular phones will be accepted by the program, along with accessories such as chargers, carrying cases, earpieces and headsets.



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