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USC considers charity
By Chris Lackner
Thanks to a new charity, Western students may be able to use their cell phones for more than just mind-numbing chatter.
Last night, a student-run charitable organization, the Mobile For Life Foundation, tried to convince the University Students' Council to join its inaugural campaign.
Justin Andrew Steepe, co-chairperson for MFLF and a second-year administrative and commercial studies student, said the charity's goal was to collect old cell phones and use the profit received from their re-selling to build Rapid Response Mobile Command Vehicles.
These vehicles will be deployed by the International Red Cross to assist in global disaster zones.
He said the campaign will be launched Jan. 8 with the goal of 500,000 cell phones, the average number needed to build one of the $1.5 million command vehicles.
Steepe said Western's logo will be placed on the first vehicle and its first destination will likely be South Africa. "Western will set a standard and challenge every university in the world to make one," he said.
The donated phones will be bought for $5 from a company called Humanity Direct Wireless Networks Inc., which will resell them internationally for close to $20.
Steepe said the USC would assist in promotions and events, but not financially.
Peter West, a media, information and technoculture councillor, expressed concerns that a charity based upon collecting cell phones will not be inclusive and might seem like a cause only the rich can support.
The MFLF will accept cash donations instead of cell phones, Steepe said, adding students can also help through volunteering efforts.
Steve Bhan, HDWN communications director, said the company was created for the sole purpose of combining the concepts of venture and philanthropy.
"You can't have this charity without someone to buy [the cell phones], refurbish them and resell them," he said.
"It's represents a symbiotic relationship," he added. "Without cell phones, the company dies and makes no profit; without the company, the charity dies."
As of press time, the USC had not yet voted on a motion to support the charity.