Office of Public Affairs
(315) 341-2265
Dec. 6, 2000
OSWEGO -- An item many people casually discard could save a life. Oswego State's Student Association is collecting old cellular phones to donate to Services to Aid Families, which distributes them to people in Oswego County who are in danger of domestic violence so that they can call for help.
"When people change plans or get a new smaller version of their phone, they often just throw the old cell phone in a drawer," said Joe Storch, SA vice president who came up with the plan to collect phones on campus after seeing a similar program on the Internet. "Here's something people can feel good about doing."
Services to Aid Families kicked off its phone drive in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Donated phones are cleaned and checked to be sure they are in working order. In Oswego County, even phones that are not attached to a calling plan can dial 911, according to Robin Braunstein, SAF division director for Oswego County Opportunities.
"For a lot of community people, it's a relatively easy thing to do. They got a new service and have an extra phone," Braunstein said. "But it's really an incredibly helpful thing to do for the women and families we work with."
Within the county, all cell towers route 911 calls to the local dispatching center, something that is not true in other areas, she said.
SAF clients have to keep the phones charged and can carry the units with them or leave them in their homes, since many of the homes do not have phone service, Braunstein explained.
When a person in danger in a domestic violence situation calls 911, the center will send law enforcement personnel who will deal with the problem and may connect the person in trouble with the SAF shelter.
Oswego State student Senator Joseph Simmons, a senior accounting major, already donated one phone. His goal is to collect 20 phones during the winter break, when he goes back to his part-time job in a convenience store in his hometown of Sherburne. "I think it's a great cause," he says.
Domestic violence survivors who receive the phones cannot use them to make personal calls, only for emergency calls to 911, Storch explained.
The local program is separate from the National Coalition on Domestic Violence program, which also collects phones. Those do not go to the areas where they were collected but are distributed nationwide. To date, Braunstein said, none of those phones have ended up in New York state.
Donors are urged to include any batteries, chargers or accessories that go with the donated phones.
To donate a phone, call Student Association at 312-3601 or SAF at 342-1544.
SAF's Abuse and Assault Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 342-1600.
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CONTACT: Joe Storch, vice president of Oswego State Student Association, 312-3601; or Robin Braunstein, SAF division director for Oswego County Opportunities, 342-1544

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