What do you do with your old cell phone when you sign up for a new cell phone plan or buy a new phone? Should you sell it or keep it as a backup? Drop it in a junk drawer and forget about it? Recycle it? This is a common question, and one that has a different answer for each person. If you don’t want to keep it around gathering dust, and selling it seems like a hassle, then consider recycling it if it’s old and past it’s service life. If it’s still usable, consider donating it to a military-friendly charitable organization.
Cell Phones for Soldiers
Cell Phones for Soldiers is a special program intended to help soldiers around the globe stay in contact with their friends and family back home. It was started in 2004 by two siblings in Massachusetts. At 13 years of age, Brittany Bergquist and her 12 year old brother Robbie set a goal to help servicemembers serving overseas have access to prepaid calling cards to call home. This was after the Bergquists learned of a soldier who had racked up an astonishing $8,000 cell phone bill.
The program is called Cell Phones for Soldiers and it has already helped thousands of soldiers call home with donations of cell phones and calling cards. In fact, what started with $21 of Brittany and Robbie’s own money has turned into a full fledged 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Cell Phones for Soldiers has distributed over 300 million minutes of talk time and raised over $2 million in donations. (Find out more about Cell Phones for Soldiers as a charitable organization at Charity Navigator, and learn how to verify legitimate military charities).
Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers
- Has provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time.
- Since July 2012, Helping Heroes Home has assisted more than 3,100 veterans and their families with emergency funding.
- Recycled more than 15 million cell phones, reducing the impact on landfills.
- Mails approximately 1,500 calling cards each week.
How does Cell Phones for Soldiers work?
The concept is actually very simple. Anyone interested in donating an unwanted cell phone can do so with the money from that donation going toward the purchase of prepaid phone cards that are sent to servicemembers. ReCellular is the largest company that specializes in recycling and reselling cell phones. With anywhere between 100 and 130 million cell phones thrown away each year (in the United States), ReCellular provides a valuable service by keeping these devices out of landfills. At the same time, ReCellular participates in the Cell Phones for Soldiers program by paying $5 for each cell phone the organization turns in. This money is then used to purchase prepaid phone minutes for soldiers.
How can you help?
Cell Phones for Soldiers is a program that benefits all participating parties. By donating you know that you are helping servicemembers remain in contact with those they love. In addition, you may also claim your donations when you file your tax return. This small gesture that requires very little time or effort on your part will make it possible for husbands and wives to stay in contact with one another. Servicemembers who have children can have a feeling of normalcy by talking to their kids about their day or saying good night before bedtime. This connection which so many of us take for granted can be life-changing for military servicemembers and their families — especially for military members who don’t have regular cell phone access while deployed.
To help this organization you can choose from the following options:
- Donate your old cell phone — either by mailing it directly to the program or stopping by a drop-off location.
- Donate money which will be used to purchase prepaid minutes.
- Organization a collection — you can create your own drop-off location and collect cell phones for the organization.
Do you know a servicemember in need?
If you are a servicemember or know a member of the military who is in need of minutes to call home, you can request a prepaid calling card or prepaid cell phone from this organization. Simply visit the website and click on “Request Calling Cards” or “Request Assistance” and fill out the online form.