Students recycle cell phones to aid domestic abuse victims


PROVIDENCE—With an iPhone in hand, La Salle Academy Junior Kevin Blais has always had a fondness for new technology. Along with being curious about the next best smartphone, he wondered what to do with old devices that he no longer used. He decided to put his love of technology to good use by helping victims of domestic violence.

On his search to figure out what to do with those idle cell phones sitting untouched in a desk drawer, he came across the Verizon HopeLine program.

“They explained how they take the phones and donate them to domestic abuse victims,” said Blais, 17 of Seekonk, MA. “They even take broken phones, recycle them and make donations to domestic abuse victims. I thought it was the best way to put old unnecessary technology to its best use. Verizon has been the best help because they have given posters, they have given boxes and all free of charge. It is a great program to work with.”

Blais initially desired to participate in the HopeLine program for his Boy Scout service project. After deciding on something different, he knew he still wanted to take part in HopeLine and bring it to La Salle.

“I still wanted to do this in the school because at La Salle we are very fortunate to have kids with families that come from great backgrounds, and stable families that can afford to have cellular devices,” he explained. “In a school like this where almost everyone has a phone, there have to be old sets of phones out there in families that don’t know what to do with them. I thought this was the best way to try and get a lot of those and put them towards their best use.”

Since he began the project on January 4, Blais said that faculty, students and their families have been very responsive. Two large boxes are already filled to the top with cell phones, charges and accessories. La Salle Academy has collected a total of 156 cell phones and accessories, with more continuing to come in. The month-long fundraiser ended on February 4.

“They have been saying that it’s a great organization,” said Blais. “No one really knows what to do with the old cell phones after you get a new one. Knowing that it will go to help families and victims is a good feeling. Knowing that a phone that you’ve just put aside, that might be broken, or that you thought was unnecessary will come as a great help to others.”

He explained that many generous people have donated phones, even individuals who are not affiliated with La Salle.

“One thing I noticed was someone who came in and explained how she saw the fundraiser on the website and so she brought the cell phones in so she could help with it as well,” he said. “She was completely disconnected from La Salle, she didn’t go here, but someone who just noticed what we were doing and tried to help the best she could.”

Blais said that he and his family donated about seven phones and chargers to the program. He explained that they are happy to see him combining his interest in technology with desire to help those in need.

“They are proud,” he explained. “They always know that I go out and try to help the community but they are happy to see that something that I spend so much time around, technology and online and stuff like that, has finally gone to a better use in helping victims like this.”