Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Because of today's ever-improving technology in wireless phones, millions of Americans have cell phones lying around that are no longer being used.

Instead of tossing them in the garbage when new ones are purchased, these handsets can be given to the "Donate-A-Phone" program that helps domestic violence victims. Sponsored by the Wireless Foundation, the "Donate-A-Phone" campaign was launched in September 1999 to collect and refurbish a portion of the 24 million wireless phones no longer being used. The phones are reprogrammed with 911 and other emergency numbers so domestic violence victims can access local emergency services and hot-line numbers at the touch of a button.

From May 1 to July 31, 2001, RadioShack is once again partnering with the Wireless Foundation to collect cell phones for the program. Abby, please let your readers know they can help victims of domestic violence by donating their old wireless phones. -- JILL A. LAIN, RADIOSHACK

DEAR JILL: What a terrific idea! Prepare for a deluge, because I'm sure that many people who see your letter will be delighted to join your "Donate-A-Phone" campaign.

Readers: Between May 1 and July 31, your outdated cell phone may be dropped off at any of RadioShack's 7,100 stores. Phones and accessories in any condition will be gladly accepted, and all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. IRS regulations prohibit the receiving organization from placing a value on donated items, but generally, the fair-market value can be claimed on your tax return.

For further information on this campaign, access the Web site: www.donateaphone.com.

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DEAR ABBY: Whenever there is a death in or outside of our family, my mother always sends a card with cash in it to the grieving family. This mortifies me. She sends $5 to $50 for funeral expenses regardless of the financial situation of those in mourning. It seems so tacky. I beg her to send food or flowers or just a card, but she continues to send cash every time.

What do you think? -- MORTIFIED DAUGHTER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR MORTIFIED: Lighten up! This may be a generational difference. It is certainly a caring gesture -- and I cannot see that it is in any way "tacky." If the grieving family doesn't need the money, it can always be forwarded to the deceased's favorite charity.

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DEAR ABBY: Why do athletes get paid more than teachers and policemen? They are the people who educate us and keep us safe. I believe the public can live without watching athletes, but can't live without people who keep us safe and make us smart. -- GRACE KOUBA, AGE 9, EUGENE, ORE.

DEAR GRACE: You have asked a very good question. Athletes earn huge salaries because of the money and publicity they bring to the teams that hire them. Millions of fans pay big money to see their favorite athletes play. Whether their "service" is of more value than what a teacher or police officer has to offer is a matter of perspective -- and a lesson in capitalism.

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