Cell phones give abuse victims line of hope

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officers loaded up boxes on Wednesday filled with help and hope for victims of domestic violence - in the shape of old phones.

"Being able to get a phone, being able to call 911 in a time of need is incredibly important," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Once again, the Philadelphia Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police put collection boxes in their districts, and at FOP locations, to gather used phones for Verizon's HopeLine program.

The donations benefit organizations like Women Against Abuse, that give refurbished phones to survivors who walk through their doors.

"A phone means a lot to a survivor. Often times, as with the cycle of domestic violence, they've been isolated, they've been controlled, they weren't permitted to have a phone of their own," said Katie Young-Wildes of Women Against Abuse.

Phones that are too old to be used are recycled, and proceeds are invested in the form of grants. The collection takes place each fall, but anyone can give, at any time, at a Verizon store.

"The emphasis is that year-round you can drop 'em off at a Verizon store," said Capt. Lou Campione. "So the special attention we give to it also improves the returns to those HopeLine boxes in Verizon stores throughout the year."

The police collected more than 700 phones, some of them really old. The old ones might seem like they're of no use, but the truth is they can be very valuable to somebody else.

"If you saw some of these phones, they're broken in half. It doesn't matter what the phone looks like, which is why every donation helps, every donation helps," said Mike Willsey of Verizon.
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