New Phone Charging Station Solicits Shelter Donations

In addition to providing free internet access, Harvard Square now boasts a complimentary rapid phone charging station that refuels mobile devices while soliciting donations for a local nonprofit organization.

The new charging station, located in the CVS vestibule at 6 JFK St., solicits donations for Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run youth homeless shelter that is scheduled to open this fall.

Harvard Square Charging Station
A new charging station, located at 6 JFK Street, solicits donations for Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run homeless shelter that is scheduled to open this fall.

Denise A. Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said plans for the project were initiated by Daniel E. Fraine, the senior vice president of facilities at the Cambridge Savings Bank, which owns the building that houses the Starbucks and CVS.

“The bank wanted the rapid charger to be free and available to the public,” she said.

Jillson added that including a charitable component was a priority for the project. “It’s a way of building community and also encouraging people to donate money to a social service agency rather than put money in a cup,” she said.


Y2Y Harvard Square is the first organization for which the charging station is encouraging voluntary donations. The charging station adapts technology developed by SplitNGo, a local company that enables restaurant customers to pay bills from their phones, facilitating rapid and safe donations.

“We thought that while people were standing around waiting for their rapid charge, there’s information about SplitNGo and Y2Y [available at the station],” Jillson said. “If people don’t make a contribution, it’s just helping people be aware.”

According to SplitNGo founder Andres Sarmiento, people using the charging station will see that users can go to, type or scan a code, indicate a donation amount, and take a picture of their credit card to donate to Y2Y.

Samuel G. Greenberg ’14, co-director of Y2Y, wrote in an email that the Y2Y team was “thrilled about the opportunity [and] incredibly grateful to all involved for their help in creating and sustaining Y2Y.”

According to Jillson, who used the charging station herself at the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, the public has reacted positively to the new addition to the Square. It is not yet known how much money Y2Y has raised through donations.


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