Teens Help Soldiers Hear Tender Voice of Home – CNN Interview with Glen Beck
BECK (voice over): Brittany and Robbie Bergquist are typical teenagers. They have school, sports and friends that keep them busy. And, oh, yeah, they also run a nonprofit organization.
ROBBIE BERGQUIST, CELL PHONES FOR SOLDIERS: Brittany and I heard a story about a soldier who had run up about an $8,000 cell phone bill trying to call home. And so Brittany and I talked and we were like, we have got to help out this soldier. So we ran upstairs and got $21 out of our own piggybanks and started this organization.
BECK: And that`s when Cell Phones for Soldiers was born, conceived four years ago, when Brittany and Robbie were just 13 and 12 years old.
BRITTANY BERGQUIST, CELL PHONES FOR SOLDIERS: We did a little bit of research, talked to our cousins who are in the military, and tried to figure out ways to help the troops call home and realized that phone cards were the best way.
R. BERGQUIST: And we talked to our parents and we figured out that we could recycle phones. And so it`s just jumped into this huge business.
BECK: Soon their home was filled with unused cell phone and chargers.
R. BERGQUIST: We had about 40 or 50 boxes filled with phones. I mean, the boxes are huge themselves. And it really — it did look like a mountain. It really did.
And we couldn`t get — we couldn`t get to our piano. I know, I`m an avid piano player. I don`t play the piano.
BECK: They get $5 for each recycled phone which they use to purchase prepaid calling cards.
R. BERGQUIST: We know that on average, it`s around 20,000 to 30,000 phones per month. And it`s changing every month.
BECK: So what started with 21 bucks out of a piggybank has grown to raise almost $1 million in donations and distribute more than 400,000 prepaid calling cards to our troops.
B. BERGQUIST: It is really incredible to think that at 12 and 13, we had the ability to start a program like Cell Phones for Soldiers that has impacted so many people`s lives.
BECK: Leave to it two kids with big ideas and big hearts to figure out something the rest of us couldn`t.
B. BERGQUIST: There are about 500 million used cell phones out in the country right now that are just lying around and nobody is doing anything with. And if we do get just half of those, we could make it so that the troops never have to pay for another phone call home.
BECK: All right. Here they are, these two incredible teens who started Cell Phones for Soldiers when they were 12 and 13 years old.
Now you guys are what, 16 and 17?
B. BERGQUIST: Exactly.
R. BERGQUIST: Yes.
BECK: And Brittany, you`re on vacation?
B. BERGQUIST: Yes.
BECK: I mean, Robbie, you just — you don`t to go on vacation?
R. BERGQUIST: Well, I guess.
B. BERGQUIST: He gets…
BECK: Let me — I just have to ask — I have to ask this question. What the hell did your parents do right? I mean, really, what did you parents do that made you guys into, like, you know, non-animal teens?
B. BERGQUIST: Well, I think…
R. BERGQUIST: I think that just from the beginning, they instilled in us that, you know, we do have to help out others, and really other people do come before we do. So they — right from the beginning when we saw someone who was on the street, they told us, you know, go give them a couple dollars, or when an ambulance went by they said, you know, cross your fingers, hope everyone is OK.
So, really, they said you need to care about other people before you care about yourselves. So when this story came up, it was really Brittany and I — finally our big opportunity to help out someone who was really in need.
BECK: I am amazed by you guys.
Brittany, you actually just wrote a letter. You went to the AT&T Web site, right?
B. BERGQUIST: Yes.
BECK: And you, like, found a name and you`re like, I`m going to write to that guy. And it turned into a $500,000 donation from AT&T?
B. BERGQUIST: Yes. They have done so much for us since they became partners in Cell Phones for Soldiers. They`ve donated over, I think, $850,000 worth of phone cards to Cell Phones for Soldiers, which is absolutely amazing. And they have created co-branded phone cards for us, so it has Cell Phones for Soldiers and AT&T so we can send those over to the troops.
And they have been absolutely amazing. And they gave us scholarships for college. They have been incredible.
BECK: For you two?
B. BERGQUIST: Yes. They gave us…
BECK: What are you guys — besides ruling the world, what do you guys want to do?
B. BERGQUIST: I have no idea yet. I think possibly media broadcasting.
B. BERGQUIST: It would be really fun to do that.
BECK: You come and intern for me any time. Anybody who has that kind of drive, anybody who can see something and move it, you come and intern for me any time.
Robbie, what do you want to do?
R. BERGQUIST: You know, I`m still trying to enjoy high school for what it is. I`m coming into my junior year.
BECK: Yes, me too.
R. BERGQUIST: So I`m still not really sure. I mean, I would love to — I would love to, you know, maybe do some broadcasting as well, but more in the sports area. I love sports, so I think that would be a great area for me. But, you k now, I`m still trying to enjoy some of my teenage years.
BECK: You are welcome as well to intern.
Tell me about this, if you go to — if you go to amazon.com, you get this little bag on any order, right? Is this still going on?
B. BERGQUIST: Yes, it is.
R. BERGQUIST: Yes.
BECK: OK. What is it?
B. BERGQUIST: Well, our recycling company has developed prepaid mailing envelopes that go out with every package from amazon.com, and also from a few different Web sites and organizations that are sending out packages as well all over the country. And people can take their used cell phones, put them into the envelope, just close it up. It has, like, sticky stuff already on it.
It`s really simple. And all you have to do is put it into the mailbox and it will get sent straight to our recycler.
BECK: And Robbie, you`re also seeing that AT&T is sponsoring concerts and they`re urging concert-goers to do the same thing?
R. BERGQUIST: Exactly. When people go to a concert, they — there will be AT&T little areas where they can go and they can find out all about Cell Phones for Soldiers, and people who go to concerts can actually pick up these little mailing envelopes that they can send their cell phones through.
BECK: Listen, real quick, what are your parents` names?
B. BERGQUIST: Gale (ph) and Bob.
R. BERGQUIST: Bob and Gale (ph).
BECK: Bob and Gale (ph). I want you to say thank you to them right now. Right now.
B. BERGQUIST: Thanks, mom and dad.
R. BERGQUIST: Thanks, mom and dad.
BECK: And Robbie, you say whatever — “You were right the whole time.” Say it. “You were right, mom and dad, the whole time.”
R. BERGQUIST: You were right the whole time.
BECK: All right. Good. Thanks a lot.
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