In an attempt to do its part to boost soldier morale, Hillsborough County officials in 2008 established collection locations for Cell Phones for Soldiers, a non-profit that collects used cell phones to exchange for calling cards for shipment to troops stationed overseas, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At its meeting May 2, Hillsborough County Commissioners presented 2,600 calling cards, representing 170,000 minutes of call time, to representatives from the MacDill Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center, the 6th Medical Group and 6th Air Mobility Wing, and the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Hillsborough County participates in the program by sending surplus county cell phones and phones collected in boxes located at 10 county facilities. Since August 2008, the county has collected more than 6,800 phones and donated more than 408,000 minutes of talk time to military men and women.
What Is Cell Phones For Soldiers?
- Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded as a nonprofit in 2004 by two Norwell, Mass., students, Rob and Brittany Bergquist, to provide deployed troops with cost-free methods to communicate with family while serving in the United States military.
- The nonprofit reports that since 2004 it has raised more than $7 million and provided more than 150 million minutes of free talk time.
- The organization reportedly mails out about 12,000 calling cards each week and has recycled more than 10 million cell phones, reducing the impact on landfills.
- Likewise, the nonprofit has provided troops with more than 2 million pre-paid calling cards, equating to more than 150 million minutes of free talk time.
- Used mobile phones from all service providers are accepted. Each donated device valued at $5 will provide troops with 2.5 hours of free talk time.
- "Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family's appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces," said the teens' father, Bob Bergquist, on the nonprofit's Web site. "Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments."
Where To Donate Cell Phones For SoldiersHILLSBOROUGH CELL PHONE COLLECTION LOCATIONS Bloomingdale Regional Library 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. Valrico Brandon Regional Service Center 311 Pauls Drive Brandon Carrollwood Cultural Center 4537 Lowell Road Tampa Fred B. Karl County Center 601 East Kennedy Blvd. Tampa Jan K. Platt Regional Library 3910 South Manhattan Ave. Tampa Jimmy B. Keel Regional Library 2902 West Bearss Ave.
Tampa New Tampa Regional Library 10001 Cross Creek Blvd. Tampa SouthShore Regional Library 15616 Beth Shields Way Ruskin SouthShore Regional Service Center 410 30th St. S.E. Ruskin Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library 11211 Countryway Blvd. Tampa