Cell Phones for Soldiers

August 10, 2005

UPDATE: Cell phones for soldiers still going strong!

As you know, AFGE recently launched its own version of the national Cell Phones for Soldiers program. Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS) was started by thirteen-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her twelve-year-old brother Robbie of Norwell, Mass., in April 2004. After hearing a news report about a local soldier who ran up a massive phone bill calling home from Iraq, they decided they wanted to do something to help.

Brittany and Robbie donated their snack money and went to the bank to open an account. The South Shore Savings Bank in Norwell donated $500 to help them get started. Their goal is to help our soldiers serving overseas call home. They hope to provide as many soldiers as possible with prepaid calling cards, with an ultimate goal of providing banks of cell, satellite, or VOIP communications. They have already distributed calling cards to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The campaign has raised more than $250,000 and has sent more than 9,000 prepaid calling cards to our troops.

The program will accept any make or model of cell phone. The cell phones are recycled for cash to purchase more calling cards. (See the WORD documents for the press release and flyer from the CPFS organization) The AFGE Communications Department will assist in drafting press releases for local use (See the official AFGE Cell Phones for Soldiers press release at the end of this article.

We are currently looking for VA medical centers to become drop off centers for the AFGE Cell Phones for Soldiers project. We hope this article will answer most of your questions. If you need any other information, please email the CPFS organization here or call the AFGE Communications Department at 202-639-6419.

Getting Started

To get started, we ask that you have a location that the public can go to during normal business hours to drop off their cell phones. We will accept any cell phone; however, all we want is the cell phone with the attached battery. We do not get any money for chargers, accessories, boxes, manuals, etc., so we ask that you ship only the phone and the attached battery.

Collection Box

You can place any type of box or bin at your location. We do not have an official drop box yet, but if you are creative, you can decorate it with patriotic colors or flags, etc.

Flyer

There is a drop-off flyer on the bottom of this page in word format. (Attachment) Please feel free to use this, or any similar sign you would like to make to let people know that you are a drop off site.

The location of your drop off center will be listed on the CPFS site. We will do anything we can to assist you, but we will rely on the drop off centers to generate as much local interest as possible.

Press Release

There is a downloadable press release on the bottom of this page (Attachment) that you can use to send to the local television, radio, and newspaper outlets. We find that centers that get some type of local exposure in the media do much better than the sites that are solely listed on our website. Please be sure to include your drop-off center information in your press release and then print it.

If you do not have any contacts in the media, call the AFGE Communications Department at 202-639-6419 or email CPFS at cellphonesforsoldiers@yahoo.com.

Donation Receipts

Donation receipts are available by e-mailing CPFS. When you have established your drop off site, send an email to cellphonesforsoldiers@yahoo.com, and they will send a receipt to you. Please print it, make copies, and give one to anyone that makes a donation and requests a donation receipt. It is up to the donor to declare the value of their donation.

Shipping Your Phones - Fed Ex Instructions.

Once you have collected 50 or more phones please e-mail CPFS at cellphonesforsoldiers@yahoo.com so that they can e-mail you back with instructions to connect you to their online prepaid shipping system. Once you enter your collection site information on their shipping Web site the system will trigger a pick up from FedEx the next day. Please have your boxes taped and ready to go. Fed Ex will arrive with all of the labels (including postage) needed to ship your phones directly to the recyclers. They can track each box from your site to the recycler. Once it reaches the recycler we will get a report showing the contents and exactly how much money your efforts raised for CPFS.

**Please note**Some of the older models cannot be re-furbished and really have no monetary value. You can still put these in with the shipment, and the recycler will work with an affiliate to make sure that they are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

As a guideline, the shipping box should be no larger than 12" X 12" X 12". With packing on the top and bottom, you should be able to ship a minimum of 50-75 phones in each box.

Other Donations

Any checks made out to "Cell Phones for Soldiers", cash, or prepaid calling cards should be sent directly to the bank listed on the cash donation page. Please do not include these with the phone shipment. All phone shipments go directly to the recyclers.

Pictures

CPFS would welcome any digital or print photos that you may want to take of your drop-off location for posting on the CPFS Web site. Please attach digital photographs to an e-mail and send them to cellphonesforsoldiers@yahoo.com, or you can send print photos and digital photos on a disk or CD to Cell Phones for Soldiers, 243 Winter Street, Norwell, MA 02061. Digital pictures can also be sent to AFGE at jjones@afge.org for possible posting on the AFGE Web site. Take a picture of your location with all of the staff out in front!