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Cell Phones For Soldiers Partners with Calvados Boulard to #ToastToTroops on D-Day Anniversary

June 4, 2019

Leading wine & spirits importer Palm Bay International is pleased to announce that Calvados Boulard is partnering with Cell Phones For Soldiers to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. For every Instagram post that uses the hashtag #ToastToTroops, Boulard has pledged to make a $5 donation (up to $25,000).

Calvados has a unique connection to U.S. history and the military. During World War II, allied troops came ashore to launch the largest seaborne invasion in history. They landed on the beaches of Normandy, France – home to Calvados Boulard. After the Normandy landings (recognized today as D-Day), General Eisenhower was introduced to the Boulard family and Calvados Boulard V.S.O.P., which quickly became the favorite of the General and his troops. June 6th, 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

On a mission to “Connect America’s Bravest,” Cell Phones For Soldiers is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communications services and emergency funding to active-duty and veteran military members. Since 2004, Cell Phones For Soldiers has provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and recycled more than 15 million cell phones. Each week, Cell Phones For Soldiers mails approximately 1,500 calling cards to troops in need.

“We are proud to support Boulard’s partnership with Cell Phones For Soldiers in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day,” says Gary Schlem, Senior Director of Brand Development at Palm Bay International. “As a family-owned company deeply passionate about our brands, we aim to partner with those who reflect our own ideals of passion, authenticity, and respect. We invite our consumers to support our troops who bravely support us in return.”

General Manager of Spirit France, Serge Dersahaguian, also says, “It is our deep pleasure to honor such a rich moment in history by supporting military families. We toast with Calvados Boulard to the past, present and future brave soldiers.”

Boulard Calvados is the first name in super-premium Calvados, the celebrated apple-based spirit unique to the Normandy region. With a 31% share of the U.S. Calvados market and international distribution in 60 countries, Boulard is one the leading brands of Calvados in the U.S. and worldwide.

This Memorial Day, Remember Our Defenders

May 27, 2019

A powerful sight takes over Boston Common every Memorial Day: More than 11,000 American flags are placed across the historic green, one for each Massachusetts man or woman who has died in service to our country, from the Revolutionary War to today.

The image is beautiful, and somewhat overwhelming. Each state and territory could have similar displays (and many do), and the whole of those numbers—more than two million of our brave armed forces throughout history—represents what we honor on Memorial Day.

War is a sacrifice. Our leaders must weigh the benefit of sending our military to fight in order to protect the United States or its allies, or to resolve conflicts abroad. Our all-volunteer armed forces train and prepare, and they fight, understanding the possibility that they may never come home.

They do it because they know that America is an idea worth defending. They work to stop injustice around the world. They do this for us.

This Memorial Day, even if you don’t personally know someone who has died in defense of our country, please take a moment to reflect on the lives that were lost so we can live in peace and freedom.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donations help active-duty service men and women stay connected with their loved ones at home, and help veterans meet costs for emergency needs.

Help Our Troops And Veterans, Help Our Planet

April 21, 2019

Personal technology evolves at a breakneck speed these days: think of how frequently Apple, Samsung, Google and other tech giants debut their latest smartphones and other gadgets. Now think about the devices those new gadgets make obsolete. Are we, as a society, putting that older tech to good use?

At Cell Phones For Soldiers, we recognize both the value of the recyclable materials of cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices—as well as the environmental harm of improperly disposing of these gadgets. On Earth Day, and throughout the year, we remind you that donating your unwanted devices to Cell Phones For Soldiers helps our troops and veterans, and keeps these devices from harming our environment.

The world is suffering a “tsunami of e-waste,” warned environmentalist Achim Steiner in 2015. Mr. Steiner, who then headed up the United Nations’ Environment Program, noted that disposed devices can release harmful, toxic chemicals into the environment, while at the same time discarding very valuable components that can be reused again and again.

“We are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially reusable,” said Mr. Steiner. “Whether it is gold, silver or some of the rare earths that you have heard about perhaps in recent years, it is still an incredible amount.”

Unfortunately, only about 12.5 percent of global e-waste is recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. We can do much better.

In 2004, Cell Phones For Soldiers saw a win-win opportunity: We could recycle donated mobile devices for their valuable reusable materials, and use the income from those materials to purchase calling cards for our deployed troops. Since then, we have provided well over 300 million minutes of free talk time to help our brave men and women in the military stay connected with loved ones at home, and have helped more than 3,100 veterans in need.

We have also kept more than 15 MILLION potentially harmful electronic devices from hitting our overtaxed landfills.

We’re so proud of that number, and are constantly working to push back against that tsunami of e-waste. This Earth Day, donate your unwanted cell phones, smartphones, tablets and mobile devices to Cell Phones For Soldiers. It doesn’t matter whether the device is working or not, broken, brand new or decades old. Make a difference in the lives of our troops and veterans, and in the life of our planet.

Cell Phones For Soldiers Celebrates 15 Years

April 7, 2019

Cell Phones For Soldiers reaches a milestone on April 12, 2019, as we celebrate our 15th anniversary! A lot has happened since the morning in 2004 when co-founders Brittany and Rob Bergquist, then 13 and 12 years old, piled their spare change and allowance savings to help an American soldier in Iraq who’d run up an $8,000 cell phone bill calling home.

Their first effort—raising $21 to help the soldier—quickly turned into Cell Phones For Soldiers. The siblings soon created a plan to turn donated cell phones and mobile devices into free talk time for our brave men and women in uniform around the world.

While completing middle school and earning their high school and college degrees, Rob and Brittany grew the nonprofit into a sophisticated, international operation. The organization, which uses the income from donated mobile electronic devices to buy calling cards for the troops, has collected more than 15 million devices. This has allowed us to provide well over 300 million minutes of free calling time to deployed troops through our Minutes That Matter program. With support from corporate partners such as AT&T, CapitalOne, Liberty Tax, Chevrolet, Santa Rita Wines, KIND and many more, as well as countless individual contributors, Cell Phones For Soldiers has provided communication services to our military, helping families stay connected.

In 2012, Cell Phones For Soldiers expanded its services to a new program, Helping Heroes Home. We use income from recycling and cash donations to help veterans needing help with the transition to civilian life. We have assisted more than 3,000 veterans with one-time grants to avoid eviction and foreclosure, as well as meet communication and household needs.

In the past 15 years, Cell Phones For Soldiers has been featured in local, national and international media. This week, as we #CELLebrate15, we’ll share some of our best memories and we encourage you to please help us ring in our anniversary by donating $15. Your donations will help us continue our mission to help America’s bravest.

February 25, 2019

The Evolution of Our Movement to Help America’s Bravest

Our name, Cell Phones For Soldiers, reflects our origins nearly 15 years ago and our evolution since: In April 2004, siblings Brittany and Rob Bergquist, then in middle school, founded Cell Phones For Soldiers with the mission of collecting donated phones to send to troops serving abroad, so they can avoid the exorbitant costs of using their personal phones to make international calls home.

We learned, however, that the costs and security risks of sending devices to war zones were prohibitive. Instead, we began safely turning donated phones into valuable recycled material, and we use the income from recycling to buy calling cards for our troops. To date, Cell Phones For Soldiers has provided more than 300 million minutes of free, secure talk time to men and women serving our country, all thanks to our generous donors.

We’re more than our name in other ways, too: We don’t, of course, only help Army Soldiers, but Sailors, Marines, Air Force members, and Coast Guardsmen, to reach all branches of the United States armed forces.

Continued, generous donations helped us branch out in service to our veterans in 2012 with our Helping Heroes Home program, which provides a one-time grant to help veterans adjust to the transition into civilian life. Through Helping Heroes Home, veterans work with veteran services officers to identify needs and receive help. We have been able to assist more than 4,500 of our nation’s brave veterans in the past seven years.

Since starting Cell Phones For Soldiers in their kitchen with the help of their parents, the Bergquists have gone on to represent our organization in local and national media, and they continue to inspire young people to get involved in their communities with the message that it’s never too early to make positive, meaningful change in the world.

As we near our 15th anniversary this year, we hope you will help us continue our mission, which is as strong as ever: Helping our troops stay connected with their loved ones, and helping veterans in need. You can donate funds or send us your unwanted cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, and you can spread the word to your families and friends.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

How Your Old Phones Can “Spark Joy” For Military Families

January 27, 2019

mobile phone recycling“Does it spark joy?”

You’ve probably seen this question all over social media and television in the last few weeks. That’s because home-organization expert Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” made a big splash over the New Year, challenging Americans to rethink their relationship to the objects in their home.

If something sparks joy—if it serves an important purpose or gives you a happy feeling when you use or see it—then it belongs in your life. But if it doesn’t, and it’s just taking up space in your house, it might contribute to clutter and the stress of being crowded by stuff. Kondo’s KonMari method, first shared in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, doesn’t aim to sterilize and remove personality from homes, but instead, to make houses and apartments work better for the families who occupy them, and to provide comfort and peace.

And in that vein, we highly doubt that your old, unused cell phones, smart phones, tablets and mobile devices are sparking any joy for you as they collect dust in a closet or crowd your junk drawer. That’s where Cell Phones For Soldiers comes in.

You should never throw an old mobile phone or device in the trash. These devices are made with components that are valuable to recyclers, but harmful for the environment. At Cell Phones For Soldiers, we accept recycled devices of any age or condition, resell the valuable parts and buy calling cards for our troops so they can stay in touch with their friends and families, wherever they are in the world.

To date, we’ve stopped 15 million devices from reaching our landfills—keeping out those harmful metals and plastics—and given more than 300 million minutes of free talk time to our troops. We’ve also, through our program Helping Heroes Home, provided emergency aid for more than 3,000 veterans in need.

Your old devices may not spark joy for you, but they can certainly spark joy in the lives of our brave men and women in uniform. To learn more about how you can give your unwanted cell phones, smartphones and mobile devices to help our heroes, visit our donation page.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

This Christmas, Give the Gift of Connection

December 24, 2018

As families across America wait for Santa Claus and gather together in the holiday spirit, hundreds of thousands of men and women wear our flag on their uniforms around the world. Their service on behalf of all of us means they’ll miss making memories with their own families.

We know that missing the holidays when you’re separated from your loved ones can add to the stress of deployment.  At Cell Phones For Soldiers, our mission since 2004 has been to connect our deployed troops to their families and friends while they’re away from home serving our country. We have provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women.

Those minutes are meant for ordinary moments and casual conversation, the daily connections that can help our men and women stay involved with life at home. But they’re also for milestones like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, first steps and graduations, heartbreaks and report cards and new jobs.

This Christmas, give the gift of connection and donate to Cell Phones For Soldiers. Just $5 gives an hour of talk time to our men and women in uniform, providing opportunities for them to catch up on daily life and bridge the distance during holidays and other important moments.

We wish all of our troops and their families joy, peace and love this Christmas, and our unending gratitude for the sacrifices they make on our behalf. Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Leading By Example: Lake Orion High School Students Come Together To Support Cell Phones For Soldiers

November 26, 2018

At Lake Orion High School in Michigan, student leaders and faculty have taken Cell Phones For Soldiers’ mission to a new level. Lake Orion is planning its fifth-annual CELL OUT For Soldiers, where students voluntarily give up their own phones for a day in January. For each phone turned in at the beginning of the school day, the school donates $1 to Cell Phones For Soldiers. This innovative program has caught the attention of local and regional news—for great reason!

Since 2015, Lake Orion High School’s leadership class has donated $15,000 to help Cell Phones For Soldiers’ Minutes That Matter program, which provides free calling cards to our deployed troops.

We are so grateful for these amazing students!

Advisor Lora Hogan says Lake Orion chose to benefit Cell Phones For Soldiers with this special day because the school feels a patriotic connection to the men and women in our armed forces. The fact that Cell Phones For Soldiers co-founders Brittany and Rob Bergquist were kids when they started this organization also inspired Lake Orion.

“Our 2,300 kids and over 140 staff members find CELL OUT to be the best day of school,” Lora says. Communication and connection are great that day and we love it. It unites our kids in a way that nothing else can.”

CELL OUT’s success has been overwhelming at Lake Orion, the first school in the nation to host such an event. Lora hopes the project will expand to other schools across the United States, offering American students a day to disconnect from their devices while helping our country’s heroes.

This #GivingTuesday, we’re highlighting businesses and organizations that have helped Cell Phones For Soldiers by donating or serving as donation sites for cell phones and other mobile devices. Setting up a permanent donation site—or hosting a collection drive—at your business or organization is a free and simple way to engage your local audience.

For other stories about organizations who help us help troops and veterans, keep an eye on our Facebook page on #GivingTuesday, November 27, 2018.

Celebrate Veterans Day With Gratitude And Service

November 6, 2018

Just like that other special occasion in November, Veterans Day is a day of extraordinary gratitude in the United States. On Sunday, November 11, we honor all veterans, past and present, for their service and sacrifice, and we affirm our commitment to never forget their work to protect and defend our nation. We are so thankful.

There are plenty of opportunities to take action in support of veterans in your community and beyond, today and every day. Here are some ideas:

Find an event, bring your kids!

Today, join crowds at your local Veterans Day parade or ceremony to show your support. Bring your children and talk to them about the importance of service, both in the military and outside it.


Check with your local veterans’ services organization to see whether they need help with special events, regular duties or other work. There may be a veteran in your community who needs help with yard work or household chores, transportation to appointments, or simply some friendly company from time to time. Go where the need is.

Share the stories of our oldest veterans

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. While the nation lost 400,000 troops during the four years of WWII, millions returned home to reenergize a war-fatigued nation. They built homes, started businesses, became parents and continued to serve. Many of them reenlisted to fight in Korea when the time came. Today, fewer than 500,000 are left from WWII, out of the 16 million who went to fight; and 2 million Korean War veterans survive. We lose more of older veterans every day. If you have a WWII or Korean War veteran in your life, and they are comfortable telling their story, ask them to share it with you. Keep their stories alive by recording them and sharing them with the next generation.


Write or call your local, state and federal representatives to ask them to increase and protect funding for veterans’ services, including for medical and mental health care, including suicide prevention, that will help heal our nation’s bravest from the physical and psychological effects of war.


If you own or manage a business, implement a veteran-friendly hiring policy and offer to train veterans in your field. Military service requires leadership, reliability, teamwork and discipline, all traits that make great workers in any industry. Too many veterans leave the military without good employment prospects, which can make the transition to civilian life even more difficult.


Veterans Day is a perfect opportunity to make a charitable contribution to an organization that supports veterans. Here at Cell Phones For Soldiers, our program Helping Heroes Home provides emergency grants for veterans to help with things like eviction avoidance, internet service, home repairs and more. We’ve given aid to more than 3,100 veterans, and aim to help more, with your support. Learn about Helping Heroes Home and donate today. 

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Impact of Mesothelioma for Military Veterans

September 25, 2018

September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Cell Phones For Soldiers has partnered with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance to spread the word about this devastating illness and the risks for our veterans and service members.

American service members and veterans risk everything to serve our country all while proudly defending our freedom. Alongside the dangers, the triumphs, and the hardships associated with this honor—soldiers risk their well-being in a number of ways. Emotional trauma and physical scars are not the only souvenirs our troops return home with. United States veterans are disproportionately riddled with a risk for rare cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer with poor survival rates. The only known cause of this disease is exposure to asbestos, a toxic, naturally occurring mineral that was heavily used across a variety of industries from 1930 through 1978. Tiny asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. Once these fibers are inside the body, inflammation and scarring may occur, which ultimately leads to the development of cancerous mesothelioma cells.

There is a long latency period between initial asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms, sometimes taking 50 years to develop. Veterans are disproportionately at risk due to the heightened possibility of asbestos exposure during their military service. Thirty percent of all Americans with mesothelioma cancer are veterans who were exposed during active duty.

A Health Concern for Veterans

Of the many mesothelioma cases, American military veterans have some of the highest rates of diagnosis. While veterans in all branches of the military are at risk, Navy veterans top the list of accidental exposure. Asbestos was widely used in naval ships and shipyards as a key component in over 300 different materials.

Each of the other military branches also used asbestos, not to the extent of the Navy, but still created the opportunity for potential exposure. The development of the disease is mainly dependent on two factors: time of service and the involved occupation.

For most servicemen, asbestos exposure was unavoidable, and the dangers then were completely unknown. Veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are most likely to develop mesothelioma. In later conflicts, some veterans would be likely to encounter asbestos in older vehicles, machinery and equipment. Iraq War veterans may have been exposed to asbestos from the destruction and debris of old buildings.

The Overuse of a Miracle Mineral

Asbestos quickly became known as a miracle mineral. Composed of six different naturally occurring minerals, asbestos was a staple across various industry usages. The fibrous material is strong, durable, heat resistant and flame retardant. Asbestos was a popular additive for many American manufacturers, including the United States military. It was a manufacturing mainstay from the Industrial Revolution until the mid-1970s, when the federal government banned most asbestos use. Despite the known dangers of asbestos, this carcinogen is not completely banned in the U.S., only now better regulated.

Symptoms to Look Out For:

Symptoms of mesothelioma are often mistaken with the symptoms of other more common diseases. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of potential signs of this disease, especially if you have a history of handling asbestos-containing materials. Common mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Anemia, fatigue, hoarseness
  • Dyspnea – difficulty breathing
  • Hypoxemia – low oxygen level
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain / swelling
  • Fever / night sweats
  • Peritoneal or pleural effusion – fluid buildup
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing, chest pain

Several factors will play a part in when and how symptoms of mesothelioma develop. The most important aspects to consider include a person’s occupation, the duration of asbestos exposure, and the specific type of asbestos used.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma Resources:

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lists occupations that have exposed veterans to asbestos. Some of the most common include shipbuilding, insulation work, construction, demolition, mining and milling.

Identifying the top medical treatment is a priority for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. To assist the search for the top mesothelioma cancer treatments available, explore the best mesothelioma experts in the country.

United States veterans may be eligible for government assistance if their health problems are linked to asbestos exposure. In some situations, family members may also become eligible for monetary assistance.

Finding a mesothelioma lawyer who is familiar with asbestos laws and litigation in your state is critical to ensuring you get the compensation you deserve.

Additional information about asbestos-related health problems is available from the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.