Calling all extra cells: Rotary thinks outside the box and turns phones into homes

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
September 22nd, 2010

How many of you out there have made the jump to the iPhone in the last couple of years? With the new Blackberry coming out later this week, how many more of us will be trading in our “old” cells for the latest Smart Phone?

If you’re thinking about ditching your old unit, the Rossland Rotary has a way to turn your old phone into a smart phone. Okay, no, Rotary will not be setting up a factory in town to refurbish and upgrade old phones. What the group will be doing through their latest fundraising program, however, is working with a Florida-based recycling company to turn old phones into dollars.   “The process for phones-to-money is a company called GRC based in Florida,” explained Sam Segal of the Rossland Rotary. “I don’t know all of the details, but basically they salvage phones that are usable in terms of their components and they rest they melt down and recycle. They have some certification to be Green responsible and they clean all data from devices turned in prior to recycling.”   “It doesn’t matter if the phone is working or not. If the phone is totally broken we might just get 50 cents per phone or something, but that’s okay. If we had every person in town donate one old phone we could raise a couple of thousand dollars.”   All of the money raised goes back into supporting Rossland Rotary’s youth initiatives as well as some of the group’s newer international initiatives.   Along similar lines, thinking outside the box has led to putting those in need in disaster zones…inside boxes. Looking internationally, Rotary has connected with a disaster relief company that manufactures “Shelter Boxes.”   “We sent three of them to Haiti this year. They each cost about $1,000. They are a high quality survival tent that gets deployed by a non-profit organization. It was started in England and they have good relationships with Virgin Air so can deploy things around the world to disaster areas very quickly.”   Shelter Boxes house up to ten people and are designed to withstand high temperatures and heavy wind and rainfall. Providing disaster relief for areas such as Haiti this past winter, the boxes are an all-in-one temporary housing solution. They come complete with partitions that divide the space up into rooms; they are supplied with children’s books and things for kids to colour; they also contain mosquito nets, tools to get firewood, a wood burning stove, and basically everything you need to survive.   In addition to a phone campaign, the Rotary is putting out the call to anyone who wishes to support their Haiti shelter box program as those funds may be able to be leveraged through the Canadian Government’s commitment to match all donations to Haiti.   At the same time, Rotary will have a box out front of Ferraros to collect your old, used, broken or just plain unwanted old phones.

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