Cleaning out junk drawers: send old phones to local organization

Published 1:43 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Those who have old outdated cell phones stored away in drawers and wonder what to do with them are asked to bring them to the Bainbridge Veteran’s Day Celebration in Willis Park on Monday, Nov. 11.
The Bainbridge High School’s Crush’em Recycling Team will take them off your hands and provide tax receipts for donations.
Sponsor of the local team is Marie Stapleton, a teacher at Bainbridge High School who has been in charge of the school’s aluminum and plastic recycling program since 2006. She, too had some old cell phones to get rid of and found a website called Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc., a program founded in 2004 by two teenagers. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards.
Since then the charity has provided 192 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world. Stapleton said, “When you are away from home and can’t talk with family members, being able to call and talk on the phone is a great comfort.”
Locally, Stapleton has been coordinating the BHS cell phone recycling program since 2009, and estimates that they collect any number between 400 and 800 phones a year. She said many are donated by the city and county law enforcement agencies who obtain contraband phones from prisoners.
All phones to be donated must be cleared of all information before they can be donated, but do not need to be in working condition.
Donated phones are sent to Mindful eCycling. For every donated phone valued at $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers is able to provide two and a half hours of free talk time to deployed troops.
For those phones that are damaged, beyond repair, viable parts and metals are salvaged and sold and the proceeds used to purchase international phone cards to be sent to active military units deployed overseas.
Stapleton and a team of her students sort and count the phones and the organization provides the shipping.
Persons who donate phones and have a specific person in mind to receive one of the cards can fill out a request form for the phone cards to go to the overseas deployed unit of choice.
There is even a program run by the same organization to purchase the more up-to-date smart phones that may have been replaced with the latest technologies. Those wishing to sell instead of donate will find the website gives a range of prices they will pay for a smart phone, as well as forms for tax purposes.
Donations are also accepted any time at local permanent drop-off points: Goin’ Postal or the Bainbridge High School office.

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