The Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America is asking for your help in support of the Cell Phones for Soldiers Projects.
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."
"What our organization is trying to do is collect a lot of phones to be able to donate to "Cell Phones for Soldiers" and say we're going to provide soldiers with five hundred hours or so of free phone time," said Wendy Bottomley, a member of the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
"We're working with our communities to go out and get people to donate their phones. We'll be working on this project through the end of the year. We're going to try for the next two to three months to collect as many phones as we can. Probably the first week in December, we'll collect all the phones and send them in. We'll erase them for you if you can't erase the stuff on there. You don't have to have all the attachments. We'll send them in," said Bottomley.
In Smithville, cell phones can be dropped off at Liberty State Bank, First Bank, Regions Bank, DeKalb Community Bank, the office of State Farm Agent Jackie Smith, and at the Verizon Phone store.
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," said 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.
Bottomley said the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America supports veterans in many ways. "We work with different groups in providing funds for veterans, such as those veterans who can't afford to pay their electric bills, or need help in building a house, etc. we have funds for that. We also have scholarships in our high schools. We have the JROTC program where high school kids learn about the military and all that it means and we provide scholarships that we give away each year to a student who is going to college. Its just an organization of veterans helping veterans, "said Bottomley.