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SPOKANE, Wash. – Two Spokane credit unions have hit upon what is being described as a “unique and creative” fundraising promotion: collect old cell phones and use the proceeds from recycling them to support needy youngsters. Taking part in the project linked to the Children’s Miracle Network charity are Spokane Teachers Credit Union and United Health Services Credit Union. The $548-million Spokane Teachers actually offers its members a successful wireless service plan on new phones through Axxis Mobile Corp. of Bellevue, Wash. “We currently have 2,039 members enrolled with 2,472 phones in service, and in 2002 we activated 282 new accounts,” noted Susan Cerutti-Jensen, public relations manager of Spokane Teachers. The $64 million United Health, which several years ago had a wireless package for members but later dropped it, retains collection of the old equipment from members with funds directed to Children’s Miracle Network. Aside from the cell phones, United Health has been using a variety of promotions including raffles, ticket giveaways and skip-a-payments among projects devoted to CMN. . Once the cell phones are brought into United branches by members, they’re shipped to RMS Communications, an Ocala, Fla.-based firm which recycles and resells the phones. Spokane Teachers said it has collected 79 phones from members for recycling and expects by yearend to bring in 150-200. According to firms which track such data, about 130 million U.S. cellular phones will be retired by 2005 with phones replaced by users every 18 months. The stockpile creates a major environmental problem, noted Spokane Teachers. “We’re inviting anyone who has an old cell phone to drop if off at any STCU branch to be recycled,” with parts reused “so that we’re not filling up our landfills with old technology.” Axxis Mobile said it has been actively encouraging STCU members to participate in the recycling program noting that when members sign up for a new plan or buy a new phone “they typically don’t have use for their old phone and put it in a drawer at home.” STCU noted that, as a community leader supporting CMN, “every dollar donated is spent locally to purchase medical equipment and supplies for 10 Inland Northwest hospitals and health care providers that treat children.” For its part, United Health said it has made CMN “its primary fund-raising project.” Dennis Clinton, chairman of the Washington Credit Union League’s Foundation and coordinator of the local Credit Unions for Kids program, noted that since the inception of Credit Union for Kids in Washington State in 1995, “United Health Services Credit Union has consistently raised the most dollars of any credit union in the Inland Northwest District of the Children’s Miracle Network.” [email protected]

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