Old phones help troops call home

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Cell Phones for Soldiers – CWD Drop Off Location – Update

Carmichael Water District has joined Cell Phones for Soldiers as a cell phone collection center. Gently-used cell phones may be dropped off at the District’s address during normal business hours.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was started by two Massachusetts teenagers to help buy calling cards to send to our soldiers serving in the Middle East. One of the programs that Cell Phones for Soldiers offers is the Minutes That Matter program which provides free calling cards to active-duty military members.

Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided more than 216 million “Minutes That Matter” and more than 3 million prepaid calling cards to troops. Cell Phones for Soldiers mails out approximately 1,500 calling cards each week.

Thanks to the tremendous support of our community, the District has boxed and shipped back 2850+ cell phones for recycling. Help us reach or better our goal of 3,000 phones. Please drop off used cell phones at the Carmichael Water District office, 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd. For more information, call (916) 483-2452.

Thank you for your continued support.

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dottedHrCarmichael Water District is part of the program started by sister, brother.

By Bill Lindelof — Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Thursday, January 6, 2005

Calling all unused cell phones.

A program started in April by two Massachusetts siblings has spawned pickup points for old cell phones nationwide – including one in Carmichael.

The cellular phones are then sold to a company that fixes them for resale.

In turn, the money earned from the recycling goes for phone cards for U.S. troops. Already, $2,000,000 has been raised for calling cards being used by military members in the Middle East.

Cards have been sent to military units and bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

The “Cell Phones for Soldiers” program was begun by 14-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her brother, Robbie, 12, of Norwell, Mass.

It’s a program that caught the eye of Lynette S. Moreno, assistant manager for Carmichael Water District.

“I think it is amazing what these two young people have done,” she said. “It is selfless.”

Moreno, whose son, Nicholas Kaylor, is in the Navy, thought it was a great way to support servicemen and women overseas who are on the hook for any charges when they call home.

“It doesn’t mean we agree or disagree with the war,” Moreno said. “It is just about helping people out. It is really expensive to use a cell phone over there.”

Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a spokeswoman at the Department of Defense, said it is up to individual members of the military to pay for calls home from phone banks or cell phones borrowed from buddies.

The water district donated its old cell phones and placed a collection bin in the lobby at its offices at 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd.

The district plans to put a call out for old cell phones on its Web site. A note requesting old phones also will be in the district’s January newsletter.

“We don’t have a lot of walk-in traffic,” Moreno said. “But we had one gentleman, who came in to pay his bill, walk back out to his car to get his phone. He brought it back in and donated. And a lady brought in two the other day.”

Moreno’s son is in Maryland undergoing training before being deployed. His best friend, Bryan Terrazas, is in the Army.
“He just went to Iraq,” she said. “You get kind of emotional when you are personally involved in this way.”

Brittany Bergquist, calling from Florida where she and her brother were juggling television interviews with a visit to Disney World, said it was great to help someone call home from overseas.

“It is so cool,” she said. “It is so great to help them out. We have gotten tons of e-mails from the soldiers telling us how they appreciate being able to call home.”

The effort began when the Bergquists heard of a homesick Massachusetts soldier who ran up a phone bill of $7,624 calling from Iraq. The brother and sister decided they wanted to help the soldier.

Donating their piggy bank money and getting schoolmates to chip in, they went to a local bank to open an account with an initial $21 to help pay the soldier’s bill.

Learning of the Bergquists’ effort, the South Shore Savings Bank in Norwell decided to donate $500. Once newspapers started writing about the school kids’ philanthropy, the soldier’s cell phone company forgave much of his bill.

Then the family received e-mails from soldiers saying how expensive it was to make a call from Iraq. Using a cell phone from Iraq costs $2 or $3 a minute, said Bob Bergquist, the youngsters’ father.

So the Bergquists decided to help others in the military by setting up the old cell phone recycling effort to raise money for calling cards.

What followed were many interviews with newspapers, the Associated Press, appearances on the “CBS Morning Show” and questioning by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

Bob Bergquist said Brittany will be featured as one of 20 “teens that will change the world” in Teen People magazine.

When outlets such as Carmichael Water District collect about 50 phones, Cell Phones for Soldiers supplies them with directions to mail the phones directly to the recycling company that buys all the phones. The recycling company pays for all the charges.

“The effort receives between $5 and $100, depending on the age of the phone,” Bob Bergquist said. “We have had police departments and fire departments become drop-off sites but never a water department. I think it is fantastic they would do that.”

Have an old cell phone?
Drop off used cell phones at the Carmichael Water District office, 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd. For more information, call (916) 483-2452.

ABOUT THE WRITER:
” The Bee’s Bill Lindelof can be reached at (916) 321-1079 or blindelof@sacbee.com

dottedHrPress Release

Cell Phones for Soldiers would like to announce that Carmichael Water District, 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, CA 95608 has joined our program as a sponsor and cell phone collection center. Cell phones may be dropped off at the District’s address during normal business hours.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was started by two Massachusetts teenagers to help buy calling cards to send to our soldiers serving in the Middle East. Started in April of 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has raised more than $250,000.00 and has sent more than 4,000 prepaid calling cards to our troops.

The program will accept any make or model cell phone. Please drop off the cell phone with the attached battery only. The cell phones are recycled for cash to purchase more calling cards.

Please visit our website at www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com, or call us at (781) 826-5801, extension 102 for more information on how you can contribute to this fund.

Cell Phones For Soldiers 31 Schoosett St. Suite 205 Pembroke, MA 02359 (781) 826-5801 www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com