Cape Elizabeth teens phone in their charitable work

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Most people don’t use flip-phones anymore. 

Two Cape Elizabeth High School students have learned, though, that this doesn’t mean people still don’t have them.

Freshman Christie Gillies and junior Marcus Donnelly have collected a variety of almost 80 old cell phones, ranging from chunky Nokias to Motorola Razors to early-generation iPhones.

Using a grant won by Gillies this month, all the phones will be recycled and donated to charity.

“Cell phones are a part of my generation,” Gillies said. “I want to be part of a solution that uses them to improve the lives of others and at the same time reduces their impact on our environment.”

Gillies received a $400 Disney Friends for Change youth grant through Youth Service America. One is awarded in every state; Gillies applied online last September, and found out she won at the beginning of April.

Donnelly was working on a similar project of his own when he found out about the grant Gillies won, and the two decided to work together.

“It was really useful to have her as a catalyst for ideas and help expand (the project),” Donnelly said.

Their plan is to collect as many donated phones as possible and then send them to Hope Phones, which recycles old phones to make new ones. The new phones will be sent to Medic Mobile, which provides phones for health-care workers and patients in developing countries.

“Ninety-five percent of the world population has access to cell service, but over a billion people will never see a doctor in their life,” Gillies said. “That statistic really struck me.”

Gillies and Donnelly said 10 new phones can be made from one recycled phone. At the rate they’re collecting phones, the pair said they’re hopeful they can help create more than 1,000 new ones.

“Our original goal was to get 100 phones, but I think we’ll get past it,” Donnelly said.

So far, phones have been collected in a box placed in the high school lobby. Gillies said she’s putting another one at the middle school, and plans to expand into more places.

“I think that a lot of people want to help, but they don’t know how,” Gillies said. “This is a really good way to get the whole community involved.”

Donnelly said the project is a very simple way to do good.

“It’s so easy to just donate your old phone, rather than just throwing it away,” he said.

Gillies said she also wants to look into branching out beyond Cape Elizabeth.

“Our goal is to expand to other schools, like Falmouth and Yarmouth,” she said.

The grant Gillies received was used to create the drop-off boxes and a website for the project,

She has also created a Twitter account and Facebook page for the project. She said she hopes to bring more attention to the effort using social media sites that people are constantly using on their phones.

“I really think that not only can we recycle our old phones,” she said, “but we can use our current ones to spread the word.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth High School students Christie Gillies and Marcus Donnelly have collected almost 80 cell phones to be recycled for health-care workers and residents in developing countries.

Gillies and Donnelly plan to put drop-off boxes in more places around Cape Elizabeth and in surrounding towns, so they can collect as many cell phones as possible.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.