BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- According to the Women's Center of Columbia and Montour Counties, every year, 7.5 million people are stalked in the United States.
That startling statistic caught the attention of 13-year-old Bella Gonzalez Jenkins, an eighth-grader at Danville Middle School. She decided to offer her help to the Women's Center in Bloomsburg.
"I always wanted to do something to help people, so I thought that I could do this because cell phones, everybody needs cell phones," Bella said.
This is Bella's second year teaming up with the Women's Center to collect phones to be distributed to victims of domestic violence who can use them as emergency phones.
The cell phone drive coincides with Stalking Awareness Month.
"Stalking is one of those types of crimes that typically either predicts and/or will co-occur with domestic violence," said Brandy Hampton of the Women's Center of Columbia and Montour Counties.
The whole point of having an emergency phone is so you can hide it in a safe place, one that's easy to access and easy to remember, so if you find yourself in trouble, you can just grab it and use it to call 911.
"If you had to put them in the back of your toilet, or you had to put them under a bush, or in your neighbor's grill, just as long as you know where they are, and they're charged, you're going to be able to utilize that to call 911," said Hampton.
Bella's efforts last year with the Women's Center resulted in over 180 phones given out to women who needed them.
"It feels very great because I know that I'm doing something and helping people in need," said Bella.
Phones will be collected until January 24 at six locations in Columbia County: the Danville Courthouse, Danville Public Library, Bloomsburg Public Library, Dunkin Donuts in Bloomsburg, and Bloomin' Bagels II.
You can also mail a phone directly to the Women's Center in Bloomsburg to:
111 N. Market St.Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815
It doesn't matter if the phone is damaged, the staff at the center can sell the parts and use the money to buy another phone for a domestic violence victim.