By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 15, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii Aca,!" Communication is important, and communication between families and their deployed Soldier is essential, said Sgt. Maj. Lisa Torello, 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade. Upon hearing about the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Torello took action collecting nearly two boxes of used cell phones from her unit in the first two weeks. She has since gathered numerous boxes to aid communication for Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that collects old cell phones, resells them for parts, and uses the profits to purchase calling cards for Soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I've been to Iraq," said Torello. "I know how important it is to be able to communicate back home." The process is simple. Gather the donated phones, print the free postage envelope from the Web site and drop the package in a mailbox. The Cell Phones for Soldiers program was begun in April 2004 by 13-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her 12-year-old brother Robbie of Norwell, Massachusetts. Robbie and Brittany's goal was to help Soldiers serving overseas call home. They had hoped to provide as many Soldiers as possible with prepaid calling cards. Through current donations today, Robbie and Brittany have already distributed thousands of calling cards to Soldiers around the globe. 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 15,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country. Torello expressed the need for other units on the installations to participate in this project. "If each unit had a collection point, we could easily gather thousands of phones," said Torrello. "You have a lot of Soldiers (who) can't afford to call home. This simple act can raise the morale for so many." Torello's ongoing support for the Cell Phones for Soldiers program has made it easy for many to phone home. "Anything you can do for a Soldier in a war zone, they really do appreciate," said Torello. "It's little effort for a big gift." For more information, visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com or contact Sgt. Maj. Lisa Torello at 808-386-2088.