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Cellphone drive will support shelters in need 


SPRINGFIELD — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon has launched her third annual cell phone drive. For each phone donated, Verizon Wireless will contribute $10 — up to $10,000 — to domestic violence shelters in need.

“These donated cell phones provide a valuable resource to survivors of domestic violence, many of whom don’t have access to a cell phone, or fear using their phones,” said Simon, a former Jackson county prosecutor who helped found a domestic violence legal clinic at Southern Illinois University School of Law. “I would like to thank our partner Verizon for helping us get phones into the hands of survivors, and funding to shelters that provide survivors with valuable recovery services.

Collected phones will be donated to Verizon’s HopeLine program. Phones will be refurbished and sold, with the proceeds going to support local domestic violence shelters and programs. The program also provides domestic violence agencies with wireless phones and airtime for use by domestic violence victims. If a phone can’t be refurbished, it will be recycled in an environmentally sound way.

“Verizon Wireless, through our HopeLine program, is committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence and the organizations that provide shelter and prevention programs. We are aware that one in four women, one in seven men, and 3 million children will experience domestic violence, so ending the cycle of violence in our communities starts with each of us,” said Brian Pascoe, region president, Verizon Wireless. “We know Illinois residents have provided tremendous support in the past and we know they’ll come through again to help us offer help that is desperately needed.”

Thanks to generous donations of individuals and state agencies, Simon received more than 1,000 cell phones during her donation drive last year. Through matching funds from Verizon, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence received a $10,000 donation. The money was provided to shelters piloting Simon’s Virtual Legal Clinic, which connects survivors with family law attorneys via webcams.

The $10 matching donation will benefit two shelters demonstrating significant financial need: the Cairo Women’s Shelter in southern Illinois and HOPE in northern Illinois. Each year, the Cairo Women’s Shelter and its sister agency, Guardian Family Services located in Metropolis, serve approximately 600 domestic violence survivors from four counties. Many of those clients are unemployed or hold minimum wage jobs. HOPE, located in Rochelle, serves roughly 450 survivors of domestic violence in Ogle and northeast Lee Counties and is celebrating its 30 anniversary in November.

Since its recycling program was launched in 2001, HopeLine has collected more than 10 million wireless phones and has awarded more than $18.1 million in cash grants to domestic violence organizations throughout the country. More than 151,000 HopeLine phones with the equivalent of more than 453 million minutes of airtime have been provided to victims, survivors and domestic violence organizations since the program’s inception.

Cell phones can be donated through Oct. 10 at the below locations. Donations are also accepted year-round at Verizon Wireless stores.

  • Lt. Governor’s Carbondale Office, IDOT Facility, 2801 W. Murphysboro Rd., Carbondale
  • Capaha Bank, 2801 Sycamore St., Cairo
  • Huffman Insurance Agency, 2035 Washington Ave., Cairo