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Residents to receive phones for 911 calls

By Linwood Outlaw III - loutlaw@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Sheriff's Office is joining a nationwide effort geared toward collecting discarded cell phones and restoring them for use by the elderly or others who need to dial 911 in a pinch.

Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron announced this week that his department has implemented a "911 Cell Phone Bank" program in conjunction with an ongoing initiative of the nonprofit Charitable Recycling Foundation.

The program will provide free cell phones to senior citizens, people who live by themselves, and victims of domestic violence or other crimes who have no immediate access to other means of communication and need to call 911 right away, McEathron says in a news release.

The cell phone bank initiative began in 2004 as a way of providing a readily available source of emergency phones and funding to meet the unexpected needs of law enforcement and rescue agencies. Since its inception, the program has generated more than $1 million in funding and has distributed more than 95,000 phones nationwide, according to the 911 Cell Phone Bank's official website.

The program has more than 1,500 participating agencies. The Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office in Woodstock and the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging office on Mosby Lane in Front Royal have also been designated as drop-off locations for the cell phone bank initiative.

Anyone with cell phones that are no longer being used can drop them off at the Warren County Sheriff's Office on East Jackson Street. Cell phone cases and chargers, as well as extra batteries, will also be accepted, the release says. The phones will be shipped to the 911 Cell Phone Bank's facility in Ocala, Fla., to be restored. The Sheriff's Office will contact the 911 Cell Phone Bank to acquire cell phones on an as-needed basis, McEathron said.

Cell phones will be given free of charge to people who need them, but the phones will only have the capability of dialing 911. Officials estimate that more than 2,000 emergency cell phones are distributed each month through law enforcement and other agencies. All donations will be tax-deductible. The 911 Cell Phone Bank program is also endorsed by and partnered with a host of other agencies, including the National Sheriffs' Association, National Organization for Victim Assistance and National Association of Triad's. For more information, call the Sheriff's Office at 635-4128 or visit www.911cellphonebank.org.

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