Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes launches the County’s cell phone collection to benefit the March of DimesFull size photo

from left: Betty Taylor, mother of March of Dimes National Ambassador Zeek Taylor, 7-year-old Zeek, and Valerie Blanchard, director of Field Services, New Jersey Chapter of March of Dimes, Feb. 27 at the Lawrence branch of the Mercer County library.

Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

Cell phone collections underway throughout Mercer County

TRENTON, N.J.-Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, March of Dimes 2007 Child Ambassador Zeek Taylor, 7, and Valerie Blanchard-Anderson, March of Dimes state director of field services, yesterday announced a cooperative effort raise money to help eliminate preterm birth. Zeek-who was born 14 weeks early and weighed a mere 1 pound, 14 ounces at birth-put the first cell phone in the collection box at the Lawrence Branch of the Mercer County Library.

"All children are miracles, but Zeek is a very special miracle," Hughes said. "All the cell phones collected for the March of Dimes will generate funds needed to stop premature births like Zeek's."

During the coming weeks, the County will be collecting old or unwanted cell phones and chargers at several sites throughout Mercer County, including the Mercer County McDade Administration Building; Mercer County Clerk's Office; the County Surrogate's Office; the County Prosecutor's Office; all 10 branches of the Mercer County Library System; Mercer County Tennis Centers; Mercer County Golf Course clubhouses; and Sovereign Bank Arena.

Under Hughes' leadership, Mercer County has reduced the number of County-issued cell phones by 35 percent. More than 300 obsolete cell phones once used by County employees that would likely have ended up in landfills instead will go toward the drive, Hughes added.

The drive is open to the public, who can donate at venues like the libraries.

"I urge everyone in Mercer County to dig out their unwanted cell phones and bring them to a donation site," Hughes said.

As the National Ambassador, Zeek is traveling the country with his parents, Betty and Corey, to share their story and raise awareness about of the seriousness of premature birth.

Additionally, Hughes, Zeek and the March of Dimes yesterday promoted this year's WalkAmerica fund-raising campaign set for April 29 at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

"We are so proud to continue and enhance our partnership with Mercer County," Blanchard said. "This campaign is part of along tradition of working together for the people of Mercer County and we extend our sincere appreciation to County Executive Hughes and his staff for their leadership and support."

Premature birth is a serious problem. It is the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S., affecting more than 460,000 babies each year. Babies born prematurely who survive also can have lifelong consequences such as blindness or mental retardation. Nearly half of all premature births happen for unknown reasons. The March of Dimes is finding the answers, and by donating your used cell phone, you can help them.

The cell phone donation program is such an easy way to help save babies. You simply gather up the phones you, your friends and family, and your co-workers no longer use and deposit them in one of the cell phone donation boxes around the county.

Statistics show that 75 million handsets will be retired from service in the U.S. this year. Those phones usually end up in landfills or junk drawers. Instead, each handset donated to the March of Dimes generates an average of $3 to $4, based on age and condition of the equipment. The phones are recycled by ReCellular Inc.

For more information, call the March of Dimes at (609) 655-7400 or visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org for Spanish.