Cell Phones For Soldiers wouldn’t have been able to provide more than 210 million minutes of free talk time for military members without the support of volunteers from across the United States. Two of those dedicated volunteers are Jennifer and Justin Jones, of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Every year since 2009 the couple has held increasingly successful cell phone drives at each of their three Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers restaurants in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Mrs. Jones—for whom helping others is a life calling and was a nurse in her previous career—saw Cell Phones for Soldiers as a natural fit to give back to Nebraska’s local military heroes when she took on the “Chief Marketing Officer, Fry Cook & Cashier” role for their restaurants.
“Partnering with Cell Phones For Soldiers is life-changing. Keeping our troops connected to family and friends while away is the least we can do.” Says Jones. “Even though it sounds so basic, after talking with the men and women who receive these calling cards and hearing how much it meant , we realized how much of an impact it had on them to hear a loved ones voice on the other end of the phone and we knew it was the least we could do considering the sacrifices they are making for each and everyone of us. ”
Mrs. Jones credits her and her husband’s “wonderful customers” with their increasingly successful phone drives, wherein they’ve been able to collect more than 4,200 phones and provide more than half a million minutes of talk time to service members in the Nebraska National Guard.
Being the daughter and granddaughter of U.S. military men, Jones says, “Supporting our troops is so important and Cell Phones For Soldiers takes something as common as an old cell phone and utilizes this to make a huge impact in the lives of the men and women who protect and serve our country.”
Inspired by her family and community, Mrs. Jones credits them with helping her, as she says, “make the most out of every moment and situation and to appreciate all that we have been given.” Likely they’re inspired by her, too. “Being able to support others in need and give back doesn’t only change their [the recipients’] lives,” she says, “but also your own.”
Hip Kitty is an American rock band who are loyal supporters to military members and Cell Phones For Soldiers. The band will head overseas this holiday to perform for and distribute calling cards to our troops, who aren’t able to celebrate the season with their families. Lead singer, Jen Goncalves shares what this trip means to Hip Kitty and the servicemen and women that they perform for.
Hello to our friends and supporters of Cell Phones For Soldiers! Hip Kitty is excited to be back for another Armed Forces Entertainment tour over the holidays! We would like to thank CPFS for their shipment of calling cards to the bases where we perform. It’s an awesome experience being able to provide our service members with a way to connect home…especially during a season when memories and time with family can be so precious. In our conversations with the moms and dads stationed abroad, the Cell Phones For Soldiers calling cards are a sweet reminder of support from those of us back home. These are men and women who proudly represent our country, but the holidays can be especially tough. A calling card means hearing the voice of their child on Christmas morning, for that so many are extremely grateful.
Hip Kitty plans to bring along some Christmas cheer, and ring in the New Year in full ROCK SHOW style! We’ll be sure to send pictures of our time abroad…We wish you all a blessed and fabulous holiday! Thank you for supporting our troops.
Jen with troops and their Cell Phone For Soldiers calling cards from their 2012 Armed Forces Entertainment tour.
The development of the new logo took several months of truly transforming who we are, what we do and where we are headed as a charity into a beautiful image. The logo has several abstract, yet quite profound elements sewn into it to capture the meaning and nuances of Cell Phones For Soldiers. The new look and feel of the charity’s logo visually encapsulates the essences of 10 years of service providing a lifeline for America’s Bravest as well as our vision for the charity’s future.
At first glance of the new logo, some of the charity’s supporters noticed the red double arches while others sighted a red heart. Both interpretations are spot on.
First, the red arches signify connections that Cell Phones For Soldiers strives to provide to troops abroad to their loved ones back home. Minutes That Matter connects the world’s bravest men and women with their biggest strength, their families. Through your donations, Cell Phones For Soldiers is able to send these brave warriors calling cards so that they can stay in touch with those who mean the most to them. These moments of connection will allow military members to hear that they are missed, and bridge the distance between them and their families even if just for a moment. Although quite subtle in the charity’s new logo, those “arches of connections” are the cornerstone of Cell Phones For Soldiers mission.
The red abstract heart denotes reconnections which Cell Phones For Soldiers affords veterans in need through the support of emergency funding. Helping Heroes Home reconnects today’s modern day heroes as they return back home. By donating used cell phones, the charity is able to provide emergency relief funds to assist veterans as they rebuild their lives after honorably serving their country and protecting our safety.The heart shape displayed in the new Cell Phone For Soldiers logo also underscores a “heartfelt” appreciation for all that our military personnel, active and retired, do for our nation.
In creating a logo that represents the core of both Minutes That Matter and Helping Heroes Home, the charity underwent a thoughtful process and set forth to incorporate the mission, vision and goals of Cell Phones For Soldiers. The final product: Cell Phones For Soldiers’ heart and soul of who we are, what we do and where we are headed have been beautifully captured in the charity’s new and improved logo.
Ralph Poznecki lives in Las Vegas and is Public Areas Manager for The Mirage Hotel Casino & Resort. He heads up the enterprise’s Cell Phones For Soldiers cell phone collection for many reasons, not least of which is because he remembers the days he served in the U.S. Air Force.
“I am proud and privileged to have been a pilot and held the rank of captain,” he says. “And I remember long lines in front of payphone booths on various air bases, airmen and officers waiting their turn, in all kinds of weather, hands filled with change to call home. With today’s technology, and the convenience of the cell phone, there’s no need for those long lines. However, it still costs to place those calls. This [Cell Phones For Soldiers’ Minutes That Matter] program can supply prepaid phone cards to help with those expenses. ”
Imagine the potential if every teen in today’s society felt so compelled to help others.
Mr. Poznecki became aware of Cell Phones For Soldiers five years ago when he was accepted for a seat on The Mirage’s Diversity Counsel.
“While serving,” he says, “each member committed to support or steward a program that ‘gave back’ in some form or way to those in need. Once involved, I learned how the [Cell Phones For Soldiers’ Minutes That Matter] program got started by a couple of teens just wanting to say thanks and help out our members of the armed forces. Imagine the potential if every teen in today’s society felt so compelled to help others. How could I every say no.”
“The MGM Resorts International Organization honors and awards many of our wounded warriors for their courage, sacrifice and bravery.”
Mr. Poznecki is pleased to represent his workplace in initiatives like Cell Phones For Soldiers because it means he and his organization can be of service:
“The MGM Resorts International Organization has been supporting the men and women serving in our armed force in many programs and events. Most recent is our Salute to the Troops, where we honor and award many of our wounded warriors for their courage, sacrifice and bravery both in combat, and now, [while they’re] recovering from their injuries.”
“The wounded soldier shook my hand, thanking me for doing so much for them, but it was I who had to thank him, hug him. I think we both got teary eyed.”
He’s pleased to represent his workplace in initiatives like Cell Phones For Soldiers because it means getting personally involved, connecting with others, feeling gratitude:
“During last year’s Salute to the Troops,” he says, “I was introduced to a wounded soldier who had lost his leg. Our events coordinator had told him about the nonprofit (Cell Phones For Soldiers) and my involvement in it. He [the wounded soldier] shook my hand, thanking me for doing so much for them, but it was I who had to thank him for his sacrifice for us, couldn’t help it, but had to hug him. I think we both got teary eyed.”
“Visit your local VA Hospital, speak with some of our veterans, and honestly say the experience wouldn’t influence you to pursue this program with your whole heart.”
“If anyone is interested in starting their own collection point for the program,” says Mr. Poznecki, “they can contact cellphonesforsoldiers.com for information, forms and other resources. My advice to anyone wanting to get started in supporting this cause…visit your local VA Hospital, speak with some of our veterans, and honestly say the experience wouldn’t influence you to pursue this program with your whole heart. Hear for yourself what these men and women would have given a chance to spend a few minute talking with a loved one, or hearing a familiar voice from home. A few minutes of someone’s time and a little effort can make a difference on the day of the life of one of our members of the armed forces.”
Recently, Cell Phones For Soldiers lost an amazing volunteer. Earl “Scotty” MacKenzie, A true patriot, he dedicated his life to veterans. He was a World War II veteran, serving honorably in the U.S. Army. He received the Purple Heart award, among many other awards and recognitions. He was very proud of his military service. Scotty, we will miss you and your compassionate work for your fellow military members.
A few years ago we wrote the below blog highlighting Scotty’s many achievements.
Purple Heart Veteran and Cell Phones For Soldiers Volunteer – Sept. 2012
Cell Phones For Soldiers wouldn’t have been able to provide more than 168 million minutes of free talk time for our servicemen and women without the support of volunteers from all across the United States. One of those dedicated volunteers is 87 year old wounded World War II veteran, Scotty MacKenzie.
MacKenzie, a Private First Class, was a machine gunner for the United States Army and was deployed three times to the South Pacific. On his last deployment he was on patrol in enemy territory when he was shot multiple times.
He knows firsthand how important it is for our servicemen and women to communicate with loved ones back home. When asked about communication options when he was serving in the military, MacKenzie said, “the only thing you could talk to was a coconut tree.” He also shared that most letters from home never caught up with him since his unit was constantly on the move. Sometimes he wouldn’t receive the letters until months after he returned home.
He has fostered relationships with large-scale organizations including Ace Hardware, Texas Roadhouse and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Collectively his cell phone collection outreach efforts have resulted in more than 2.1 million minutes of prepaid talk time for men and women in uniform. In 2011 alone, MacKenzie’s drop-off locations collected 5,715 unwanted cell phones.
Mackenzie shares his words of encouragement with fellow commanders within the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “If I can do this at 87….then you can do this at 37.”
MacKenzie continues to spend an average of two to three hours a day working on the Cell Phones For Soldiers campaign out of his home in Wyoming. He attributes his commitment to the charity to the Bergquist family.
“I think it’s one of the greatest projects I’ve ever been involved in and I bless the family and those children.”
As we close out the month of May, we reflect on the meaning of National Military Appreciation month.
We kicked off the month of May with Military Spouse Appreciation Friday, May 9, honoring the patience and determination of military spouses nationwide who manage and guard their families while their husbands and wives serve our country. Service doesn’t just fall to those in uniform; it is certain that military spouses serve our country as well. The stress that spouses endure, as they worry for the deployed and as they find strength to go about the daily routine of running their households, can only be imagined by civilian families. The service of military spouses is many times forgotten.
Saturday, May 17, we honored the Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day. This day recognizes the sacrifices of the servicemen and women who protect our country from harm’s way, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Every day their service enables us to enjoy the rights and freedoms that we so often take for granted.
Monday, May 26 we celebrated Memorial Day. On this national holiday, we as a country remember those who have died during active military duty. The United States honors those who gave their lives to protect our country – the biggest sacrifice any citizen can give to his or her country. With heartfelt gratitude, we remember our fallen heroes on this day and thank them for the gift of freedom.
Looking back at a full month dedicated to honoring our military, it does not seem like enough. For all that our past and current military personnel have done and are doing to protect our country, one month of remembrance, honor and celebration for our heroes is truly insufficient. The sacrifices that generations of military members and their families have given and currently give is profound and sobering.
Freedom is not free. Every day – even for only one minute a day – let us mindfully honor, remember and celebrate our country’s military personnel, past and present, who have afforded us our freedom.