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Safety is just a call away

Ben Godar

The old cell phone in one person’s closet could be another person’s

salvation in an emergency.

The Burbank Police Department and Burbank Recycle Center are


collecting old cell phones to be redistributed to those who might

need emergency attention, including seniors and victims of domestic

violence. The phones are reprogrammed so they can only dial 911 or

other emergency numbers.


After the phones are collected, they are given to Pacoima-based

Pledge-A- Phone for distribution. In the two months the Burbank

program has been in place, company officials said more than 200

phones have been donated. They will soon begin giving those phones to

people who qualify. Police also donate seized phones for


Capt. Gordon Bowers said the phones provide an important safety



“From the few people I’ve talked to who have gotten one, it sounds

like a critical factor in their ability to feel safe,” he said.

Michael Thornton, a spokesman for Pledge-A- Phone, said the phones

it gets are usually older, analog models, but they come in all shapes

and sizes.

“We’ve even gotten phones like the ‘Miami Vice’ brick phones,” he


The Recycle Center has accepted cell phones for nearly two years,


Recycling Specialist Hope McAloon said. In the past, they were

grouped in with other electronics and shipped to companies that

recycle the parts and equipment.

She said the new program not only keeps the phones out of the

landfills, but provides people a needed service.

“Anytime we can reuse something, that’s better for the

environment,” she said. “This also gives us the opportunity to do

something good.”

Phones can be dropped off at Police Headquarters, 200 N. Third

St., or at the Recycle Center, 500 S. Flower St. Anyone who needs an

emergency phone can call Pledge-A-Phone at (888) 259-4860.