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Old cell phones sought for victims of domestic abuse

By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online. By KRISTIN WEBB Sun Staff

LOWELL -- Old or outdated cellular phones can serve a greater purpose than collecting dust -- they can help protect victims of domestic violence.

The "Call to Protect" program is a national effort sponsored by the Wireless Foundation, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Motorola to help victims by collecting, refurbishing and distributing donated cellular phones so they have a way to contact help.

In the Greater Lowell Area, the program is supported by the Student Nurse Association (SNA) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. They set up 11 phone drop-off bins in the area and Joshua Patrick, SNA president, said they plan on setting up more.

"Our goal for the Greater Lowell Area is to collect 5,000 phones," he said.

Ten phones have been dropped off so far. Bins are spread across the UMass Lowell campus at Weed Hall, room 222, Office of Student Services, Donahue Hall Staff Office and the Admissions Office. Bins are also at the Rape Crisis Services of Greater Lowell, 144 Merrimack Street, Central Cellular and Paging, 65 Merrimack St., and Barnes and Noble Downtown, 151 Merrimack St.

"It only takes one phone to make a difference in someone's life," Vera Godley, director at the Rape Crisis Center said.

The phones are sent to Motorola for refurbishing and local wireless carriers donate the airtime.

"No one is charged for this," Patrick said.

The phones are programmed to call 911 and one other local emergency number of their choice. The phones cannot be used for any other purpose.

"The phones can give some comfort and security in dangerous situations," Godley said, "It's a very worth while thing."

Potential victims can get a phone at participating domestic violence organizations and police stations.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.