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New cellphone donation barrel placed in Butler

Josette Skobieranda Dau, associate director of Butler SUCCEED, demonstrates the donation barrel for Secure the Call on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Eddie Trizzino/Butler Eagle

The Butler Area Public Library collected 72 used cellphones in the few months that it had a donation barrel sitting in its lobby, leading the Secure the Call program to expand in the city with a barrel at Butler SUCCEED.

Sue Evans, a member of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Intermediate League of Butler, helped bring a donation barrel to the library, for the program that distributes used cellphones to people who may otherwise not have access. Cellphones without service are still able to connect to 911, so Secure the Call provides them to people in domestic violence situations or senior citizens who may need a phone in an emergency.

Evans said the donation barrel at the library is still there, and it and the one at Butler SUCCEED will be picked up intermittently by Secure the Call.

Josette Skobieranda Dau, associate director of Butler SUCCEED, said people are already noticing the barrel in the Slippery Rock University facility at 150 N. Main St.

“We just got our barrel last week,” Skobieranda Dau said. “We got about eight cellphones already.”

Neal Holtz, head volunteer for Secure the Call, said the phones are given to the nonprofit’s partner agencies, which include police departments, shelters and senior centers. Those agencies get the phones to people who may need to dial 911 in an emergency, he said.

Holtz also said the phones that reach Secure the Call are cleaned by volunteers, who make sure the phones work before sending them off to people in need via partner agencies. Phones donated in particular regions could make their way back to the same region, according to Holtz.

Evans said she got great feedback from Holtz after the nonprofit picked up the barrel from the library. According to Evans, Holtz said the library drive was “easily one of the best drives” Secure the Call had in the past 12 months.

According to Skobieranda Dau, the barrel will be in Butler SUCCEED for the next six to eight weeks.

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