Ryan Stutzman and Sean Yeung. (Laura Reinhardt/WV)

Ryan Stutzman was intrigued when he read that there are between 300 and 500 million cell phones currently abandoned in junk drawers around the world. The University of Washington business student wondered if this piece of trivia could be the key to a money-making opportunity.   

It was. He discovered several companies that refurbish old phones and resell them in countries such as India and China, where there is insatiable demand for low-cost phones. It turned out these companies are willing to pay up to $200 per phone.

Ryan teamed up with fellow student Sean Yeung to organize a phone collection on the University of Washington campus, raising the money to help World Vision expand a school in Twachiyanda, an impoverished community in Zambia.

The pair handed out flyers and set up collection boxes. Within two weeks, they had amassed more than 100 phones—worth about $1,000. Ryan is now planning similar forays on other university campuses.    

He says he caught a glimpse of poverty in the developing world while serving in the Navy, and he decided he would one day do something about it. “God got a hold of my heart and made me want to do everything I can to give the opportunities that I have to others,” he says.

Do you have an innovative way to help children in need? Write the editors at

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