Local 6, Harbor House to provide cellphones to domestic violence survivors

Local 6 lobby open Friday for cellphone donations

By Allison McGinley - News Director

ORLANDO, Fla. -  It's been a deadly few weeks in Central Florida. Domestic violence has claimed the lives of six people and left nine children orphaned. With 8,500 calls to police in 2011, Orange County ranks just behind Miami-Dade in domestic violence, and Orange has less than half the population.

Last month's shootings at an International Drive hotel is further proof that domestic violence isn't just on the home front.  And it's why advocates say it's the entire community's responsibility to make sure these victims have a life line.  

During a 2011 call to 911, an Orange County woman asks for help as her ex-boyfriend broke into her home.

"My ex-boyfriend just broke into my house. Please, please, please come. I'm running the water so he won't hear my call you," she said.

"Oh my God. What are you doing here? What are you doing here? No. Please go. Please," the call continued.

The woman had a restraining order against him, but advocates say that doesn't always stop a batterer.

And it's why Carol Wick, CEO for Harbor House, says it's critical for every woman to be armed with as many cellphones as possible.

"First thing the abuser does is smash their cellphone so that they can't call 911," said Wick.        

"We plan with someone, if the abuser gets violent, how do you get away from them? And then train them to plant 911 cellphones, which are old cellphones that have been rehabbed, throughout the house and in their car, in different places," explained Wick.

That's where the Local 6 viewer comes in.

"We know you have old cell phones laying around or shoved in drawers," said Wick.

Harbor House needs those phones!

"That phone can be charged and even without service can still call 911," said Wick.

And it doesn't matter what style phone.

Wick says an old flip phone is durable and holds a charge for a long time.

And if you're upgrading to the iPhone 5 this month, you can donate your old smart phone because chances are they'll be able to sell it and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to help women escape abusive situations.

Harbor House guarantees your privacy by first sending the phones off to be scrubbed of all personal information.

While Central Floridians donate about a thousand phones each year, Wick says the need continues to grow.

So this Friday, Local 6 is asking its viewers for help.

Local 6 is opening up the lobby at 4466 John Young Parkway from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Viewers can drop off old cellphones during those hours.

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