In the eyes of 11-year-old Selah Norman, cellphones can save lives.
The Harrisonville fifth-grader is on a mission to collect used phones that in return will help feed starving people through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization.
“I really don’t like it that people are starving when America has so much food that gets thrown away,” Selah said.
Dubbed as the “vision project,” Selah sells the cellphones she has collected to PaceButler, a cellphone recycling company, and gets cash in return.
“They send us a check, and then we give the money to World Vision,” she said.
Selah was influenced by her dad, Michael Norman, to raise money for the organization.
“My dad has donated to World Vision for a long time,” she said.
Selah recalls her father telling her about how people in poverty around the world struggled to find food in order to survive.
“There are such big numbers of people dying,” she said. “It’s incredible when someone could do just a little about that.”
She came up with the idea to collect cellphones last summer.
“I was just looking for something to do to give money to World Vision,” she said. “I thought of cellphones.”
Selah took to the Internet to search for a company that buys used phones for cash and found PaceButler.
She researched the credibility of the company – even to the point of checking the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Over the first part of the school year, Selah got started on the project by getting her classmates at school involved.
In October, she gave a speech during a school assembly to tell students about how the program works, why she wanted to get it started and how they could help.
Soon, donations started to come in, and Selah was able to send her first shipment of phones to PaceButler. Soon after she received a $50 check.
She recently sent in 24 more phones.
Selah said she gives credit to her parents who have helped her with the project so far, and hopes to send another shipment of phones in the spring.
The donated phones can be working or nonworking, but can’t be connected to any kind of service provider. The proceeds for each phone vary.
“We should try to help as much as we can,” Selah said.
Those wishing to donate toward the project can drop off their old phones off in the offices at Harrisonville’s McEowen Elementary School and Harrisonville Middle School, or to music teacher Amanda Norman at Sherwood Elementary School in Creighton.
“I’ve enjoyed having the feeling that we are helping,” Selah said. “I love the feeling that I know someone is going to get to have a meal tonight that probably wouldn’t have gotten to before.”