March 22, 2007 -- Next time the person next to you in the supermarket or on the train annoys you with their incessant cell phone braying, consider that they may be doing the world some good.
Several new programs that tie wireless phone contracts to charitable donations allow consumers to funnel money to worthy causes.
Motorola's RED program is aimed at funding anti-AIDS efforts in Africa, and Amnesty Wireless sends donations to fund the group's human rights endeavors.
With the Motorola deal, consumers buy a qualifying RED phone and the Illinois-based phone maker donates $17 per handset, plus an ongoing 5 percent of the customer's monthly bill. The manufacturer also kicks in $5 to the AIDS programs when you buy a Bluetooth headset.
Companies such as Armani and Gap are also participating in the AIDS Global Fund effort, created by U2 frontman Bono and Santa Monica, Calif., city council member Bobby Shriver. The fund has raised $10 million to date, according to The New York Times.
Amnesty International lets subscribers donate 10 percent of their monthly charges to the organization, according to a statement by the organization. This doesn't cost the consumer anything and Amnesty will even buy out a subscriber's current contract for up to $175. Details are at www.amnestywireless.com.
So sign up, cell phone yakkers, and feel no shame when others stare.