By Heidelberg Army Community ServiceMarch 11, 2010
HEIDELBERG, Germany - More than 150,000 troops are serving overseas and are away from their families.
Cell Phones for Soldiers and Heidelberg ACS are calling on all Americans to support for these brave men and women by donating your unused cell phones.
Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to collect over 50,000 cell phones this year to help keep troops connected with their families.
"Over the past few years, we have been amazed by the generosity of others.
But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue," said Brittany Bergquist, Cell Phones for Soldiers cofounder.
"It is easy for Americans to make a small sacrifice of support by donating their unused cell phones, and providing families with a much-needed connection to their loved ones overseas."
"Last year, the Heidelberg community donated 157 cell phones to the program to enable young Soldiers, many away from home and family for the first time, to get them free phone cards," said Norma Ewers, ACS Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator.
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 are continuously overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support of thousands of Americans who have helped our troops speak with their loved ones," said Bob Bergquist, the teens' father.
"However, the need for support keeps growing as more soldiers are sent to the Middle East or are asked to serve extended tours of duty."
Through increased fund raising 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 and prepaid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.
"We're proud to show our support for U.S. Soldiers, and to contribute to a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers," said Dawn Powell, ACS marketing specialist.
The donated phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each phone - enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.
Approximately half of the phones ReCellular processes are reconditioned and resold to wholesale companies in over 40 countries around the world.
Phones and components that cannot be refurbished are dismantled and recycled to reclaim materials, including:
Aca,!Ac Gold, silver and platinum from circuit boards
Aca,!Ac Copper wiring from phone chargers
Aca,!Ac Nickel, iron, cadmium and lead from battery packs
Aca,!Ac Plastic from phone cases and accessories