Recycled phones make 'a huge difference' for struggling Calgarians during COVID-19

Calgarians struggling during COVID-19 are getting a new lifeline to help them make it through the pandemic. As Gil Tucker shows us, that support comes from a recycling agency that works hard to keep people connected.

Calgarians struggling during COVID-19 are getting a new “lifeline” to help them make it through the pandemic.

That support comes from the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA), a Calgary-based national organization that supports Canadian non-profit agencies.

The ERA takes donated items such as computers, laptops and smartphones and passes them on to the agencies.

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Among those agencies is the Brenda Strafford Society, which operates an emergency women’s shelter in Calgary.

The ERA is providing 10 phones for families staying at the shelter.

“For women who are experiencing domestic violence, it’s a lifeline,” the Society’s Linda McLean said.

“It is their connection to being able to reach out for help and support, it’s their ability to look for employment, it’s their ability to stay connected to their family, when they’re in a shelter where they cannot perhaps have visitors or are not able to leave and be safe and it’s also going to give them that assurance that while trying to navigate putting their lives back together, they’ve got a way to stay connected.”

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The ERA is donating another 90 phones to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in Calgary, at a time when they say their clients need them more than ever.

“In the pandemic, we went from a high-touch world, where people with vision loss could rely on their other senses, to a world where we can’t touch anything anymore,” the CNIB’s Leanna Smashnuk said.

“So having a phone allows these individuals the ability to use their camera and different apps on a smart phone to be able to read prescriptions, read dietary restrictions on a box at a grocery store, really just navigate their world, so this makes a huge difference.”

The phone donations are part of an electronics recycling effort that’s making a difference for a lot of people across Canada.

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“Currently, we have over 400 organizations on our pending waitlist, all in need of computers, laptops, printers, projectors,” the ERA’s Julia Armstrong said.

“With everything going on with the pandemic, we’ve definitely noticed a decrease in the amount of items that we’re receiving from businesses. Businesses have been closed, people have been out of the office. We’ve seen a huge increase in the demand for donations from charities and a nonprofits — so there is a bit of a gap there.”

The ERA is now appealing for help to fill that gap by encouraging people to donate electronics.

“Every donated phone makes a difference,” Smashnuk added. “If anyone is out there with the device that they no longer use, we definitely encourage you to donate it.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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