More than 150,000 troops are serving overseas and are away from their families. Cell Phones for Soldiers and the Ottawa County Veterans Service Office are calling on local residents to support these brave men and women by donating unused cell phones.
Cell Phones for Soldiers is looking to collect more
than 50,000 cell phones to help keep troops connected with their families.
Brittany Bergquist, Cell Phones for Soldiers co-founder, said, “We’re asking Americans to make a small sacrifice of support by donating their unused cell phones, providing families with a much-needed connection to their loved ones overseas.”
Local residents can support the collection drive by donating their phones at the Ottawa County Veterans Service Office, 8444 W. SR 163, Suite 102, Oak Harbor.
“We’re proud to show our support for U.S. soldiers and to contribute to a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers,” said De Ann M. Askew, director.
Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $1 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generous support of thousands of Americans who have helped our troops speak with their loved ones,” said the teens’ father, Bob Bergquist. “However, the need for support keeps growing as more and more soldiers are sent to the Middle East or are asked to serve extended tours of duty.”
Through increased fundraising efforts, the Begquist family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the next five years to fund new programs, such as providing video phones and pre-paid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.
Phones collected are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each phone – enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.
Instructions for how to erase private data on the phones is available at www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com, under “Frequently Asked Questions.”
Approximately half of the phones ReCellular processes are reconditioned and resold to wholesale companies around the world. Phones and components that cannot be refurbished are dismantled and recycled to reclaim materials including:
• Gold, silver and platinum from circuit boards;
• Copper wiring from phone chargers;
• Nickel, iron, cadmium and lead from battery packs;
• Plastic from phone cases and accessories.
For more information about Cell Phones for Soldiers, visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com. For more information about the local collection effort, call the Ottawa County Veterans Service Commission at 419-898-2089.