Cell Phones for Soldiers

Delegate Richard Sossi (District 36 – Upper Shore) and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (District 37B – Mid Shore) donated cell phones to soldiers this week as part of the Cell Phones for Soldiers program. The Cell Phones for Soldiers organization is calling on all Americans to support the 150,000 troops who are serving overseas by donating your unused cell phones. Their goal is to collect over 50,000 cell phones this year to help keep troops connected with their families.

With that in mind, Delegate Susan Aumann (District 42 – Baltimore County) established a collection site in her Annapolis office and called on her legislative colleagues to donate phones. Delegate Richard Sossi and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio were among the first to donate. “As a Vietnam veteran I well know the value of being able to call home,” said Delegate Sossi. Delegate Haddaway shared his sentiments saying, “I cannot imagine how hard it is for these brave men and women to be away from friends and family for such long periods of time. My heart goes out to them and I hope my contribution will lift someone’s spirits by allowing them to contact their loved ones.”

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Massachusetts. After reading a story about a soldier who ran up a huge phone bill calling home from Iraq, these two teenagers decided to help out. They started by opening an account with $21.00 of their own money. Since then, the 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,” says the teens’ father, Bob Bergquist. “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 fundraising 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. 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:

• Gold, silver and platinum from circuit boards
• Copper wiring from phone chargers
• Nickel, iron, cadmium and lead from battery packs
• Plastic from phone cases and accessories

Cell Phone Donations on the Eastern Shore can be delivered to Liberty Tax Service in Easton, Maryland. For more information, contact Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio at (410) 841-3429 or Delegate Richard Sossi at (410) 841-3543. You can also visit the Cell Phones for Soldiers web site at www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com