During the height of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Katie Dunn’s neighbor put out a group text asking if anyone had a spare cellphone for her friend.
“The friend, along with her young children, had just been kicked out of her house with hardly any belongings, including her phone, by her abusive husband,” Dunn said.
When she was in fifth grade, Dunn recalled a visit her Girl Scout troop took to The Julian Center, which provides support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, in Indianapolis to drop off clothing. She was shocked to learn the women there lived in fear.
“That idea snowballed into the decision to earn my Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of the USA, the highest honor earned, by creating a community wide, sustainable donation event for mobile phones to help even more victims of domestic violence like my neighbor’s friend and like the women I saw at The Julian Center so many years ago during that troop tour,” Dunn said.
So now Dunn, a Carmel High School senior, set a goal of collecting 50 phones. She surprised herself when she collected 411.
“I think people were happy to donate their outdated phones to something so important and useful,” Dunn said.
Her goal this year is to meet or exceed 100 donated phones through the Voice to Victims project.
“Those that donated last year may not be ready to donate again this year, so I need to reach more people in the community,” Dunn said. “Working and non-working phones that can be repaired are all accepted.”
In 2021, Dunn donated the phones she collected to The Julian Center. For the 2022 donation drive, she will donate phones to Prevail, Inc., in Noblesville, which also supports domestic violence survivors. She plans to deliver the phones personally.
“Last year, I held an in-person drop-off event in which I was able to meet several individual Scouts and a few troops when a group of girls arrived as well,” Dunn said. “It was rewarding to meet fellow Gold Award recipients who were supporting my goals and to be a role model to the younger Girl Scouts that came to that event.”
This year, she won’t host an in-person donation event, however. The drop boxes, which will be in place from Jan. 4 to 16, 2022, will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Carmel Police Station, 3 Civic Square, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays at the Carmel Clay Public Library’s location at Merchants’ Square 2140 E. 116th St., Carmel. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts who donate can attach a self-addressed stamped envelope with their donation and Dunn will mail back a Voice to Victims patch for their uniform.
“My hope is that someone at Carmel High School, either through the Key Club or National Honor Society, both of which I currently belong to, will take on this project for individual hours to keep this community service project sustainable,” Dunn said. “I’ll be leaving instructions for the next person to take over after I graduate this school year.”
For more, visit voice2victims.weebly.com.