Store doesn#039;t let wires get in the way of charity

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

Midwest Wireless was started in Minnesota in 1990. It's predessor is Cellular One and it

branched off on its own. This company's territory is Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Its base is out of Mankato. There are four employees at the Austin Store. This organization does a tremendous amount of charity work. One cause that this company is dedicated to is collecting old wireless phones, called Phones for Funds. With all the advances in technology, individuals often update their wireless phones. The result is a surplus of old wireless phones. These phones are not entirely useless. There are companies looking to buy used wireless phones in bulk to be sold off for parts or used to produce new wireless phones. Now the phones are collected at retail locations and Midwest Wireless is able to pool the phones gathered, sell them in bulk and raise funds for local charities. The Austin retail store is raising funds for the Red Cross through collecting phones.

"Any wireless phone or wireless accessory will be accepted at the retail stores until February," said public relations manager, Shelly John.

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Another charity that Midwest Wireless is dedicated to is collecting toys for the Salvation Army during the holiday season. They collected well over 5,000 toys this past season.

People drop off their toys at the retail stores and they are picked up by the Salvation Army to go to well deserved families.

The past two years

school children in the area have designed a

Christmas card for Midwest Wireless. The winner of the card design receives a $100 savings bonds and $500 technology grants are donated to the individual's school. This contest was started in 2001 as the public relations for Midwest Wireless couldn't find a suitable holiday card. This year 2,500 entries were received for the Christmas Card Contest.

Another program sponsored by this company is the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award. This is to honor individuals who use their wireless phones for themselves or others in an emergency situation. Last year's winner, Craig Peterson

was from Minnesota. He used his cellular phone to summon a rescue team to the scene of an accident. This year the company is looking for Samaritans in Wisconsin and Iowa.

"This company is doing very well and growing very fast. The key to our success is that all of us who are in the company live here. Because of this we know what is good for the communities," said John.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at