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Owners of Obsolete Cell Phones Urged To Donate Them For Abuse Victims

(Out-of-their-prime cell phones destined for new life as 911 "Hopelines" are displayed at Philadelphia police headquarters.  Credit: Ian Bush)

(Out-of-their-prime cell phones destined for new life as 911 “Hopelines” are displayed at Philadelphia police headquarters. Credit: Ian Bush)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Maybe you have one  or more old cell phones sitting in a junk drawer, tossed aside when you upgraded.   Don’t throw them away.

Hundreds of the devices are getting a new life, helping those in the Philadelphia area who need them most.

For victims of domestic abuse, “These cell phones really are a lifeline,” says Katie Young-Wildes with Women Against Abuse, since those who suffer at the hands of another often are forced to run from their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“Even if they’re not ready to come into shelter yet, just to have that phone, that they know they can call for help, is a huge step toward safety,” she said.

Part of the Verizon Wireless Hopeline program, the phones were collected over the past month by the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Union president John McNesby says there’s no charge for the device or the cellular service.

“If we can save just one person by one of the phones here today, it’s going to be a tremendous thing,” he said.

The phones are meant for 911 calls, but Verizon adds some minutes so victims can set up court appearances and look for jobs.

The Philadelphia Domestic Abuse Hotline is 866-723-3014.