Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in 2008. To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers expects to collect 50,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country.
The phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone – enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.
“Americans will replace an estimated 130 million cell phones this year,” says Mike Newman, vice president of ReCellular, “with the majority of phones either discarded or stuffed in a drawer. Most people don’t realize that the small sacrifice of donating their unwanted phones can have a tremendous benefit for a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers.”
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 $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.
“Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family’s appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces,” says the teens’ father, Bob Bergquist. “Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments.”
Through increased fundraising efforts, the Bergquist family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the next five years to fund new programs, such as providing video phones with prepaid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.