Washington—After launching its Cell Phones for Soldiers campaign in August 2005, the American Federation of Government Employees today announced that AFGE Locals around the country have collected more than 6,500 cell phones, cell phone accessories, pagers and blackberries to help troops stationed overseas stay in touch with their families and loved ones.
Through AFGE’s Cell Phones for Soldiers program, participants donated used cell phones and other items at designated drop-off sites. The phones then were recycled for cash and used to purchase prepaid calling cards for soldiers who could not afford to make costly long distance phone calls home to the United States.
“Cell Phones for Soldiers is a wonderful program that allowed AFGE to show its support for the troops,” said AFGE 14th District National Vice President Dwight Bowman. “AFGE represents nearly 185,000 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees, many of whom are veterans. Today’s soldier is tomorrow’s veteran. This is our way of showing future veterans that we care about them and want to help them through a difficult time.”
The AFGE cell phone program was an offshoot of the national Massachusetts-based initiative. Started by two teenagers, Brittany and Robbie Bergquist, the program began in 2004 and has raised more than $250,000 and sent more than 50,000 prepaid calling cards to U.S. troops.
AFGE’s Cell Phones for Soldiers effort started off with participation by Locals at VA Medical Centers in a handful of cities and blossomed into a nation-wide effort that included participation in Anchorage, Alaska; Tucson, Ariz.; Washington; Minneapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland and Roseburg, Ore.; Philadelphia; Ft. Meade, Hot Springs, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, S.D.; Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas; Vancouver, Wash.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Arlington and Salem, Va.; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; and Waco, Texas.
While the official campaign has ended, VA medical centers in the Washington, D.C. metro area are still accepting phones. Individuals can make donations at the VA Medical Center at 50 Irving Street, NW and the VA Central Office at 811 Vermont Avenue, NW. Phones will be accepted weekdays at the VA Medical Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in AFGE's union office, room GC-100. The VA Central Office location will accept phones between 1:00 and 3:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in room 141 of the Lafayette Building.
Additionally, the Pentagon, which established cell phone collection boxes for staff donations, has implemented a mail label option for those interested in sending their donations directly to Cell Phones for Soldiers. By visiting http://www.wirelessfundraiser.com/cpfs/
, individuals can submit information and print prepaid mailing labels for Cell Phones for Soldiers shipments.
For more information, please visit www.afge.org