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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.

Volunteer

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.

Advocate

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.

Hire

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.

Give

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.

On a Day of Remembrance, a Commitment to Support Our Troops

September 10, 2018

Many members of the new senior class in America’s high schools were just infants 17 years ago on September 11, 2001. Some weren’t even born yet. They don’t have any memory of the terrorist attacks on that crisp, blue Tuesday morning in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

These new high school seniors have lived through a rapidly evolving time, during which evolving technology has changed the way we communicate, the way we buy products, how we travel, and even how we listen to music. In Lower Manhattan, city blocks destroyed in the attacks have transformed into a beautiful memorial and museum, as well as thriving centers of commerce.

Despite the changes, one thing has remained constant for this generation and the rest of America. Since this date, 17 years ago, our military has in some capacity or another been involved in the War on Terror: a complex, deadly, and often borderless struggle against violent extremists.

In the years immediately following the terrorist attacks, our country rallied behind the men and women of our military as they ventured into a new kind of war. The number of deployed troops at any given time has increased and decreased as America and our allies have made advances and scored victories against terrorist groups.

But deployments remain a reality for hundreds of thousands of brave men and women—and their families—every year. We need to continue to care for them.

If you are old enough to recall the horrific events of September 11, 2001, we ask that you remember that the fight for peace and freedom is ongoing.

In 2004, Brittany and Rob Bergquist, then ages 13 and 12, decided to start Cell Phones For Soldiers, after seeing a news report about a local Soldier who got slammed with an exorbitant cell phone bill during his deployment. Since that date, Cell Phones For Soldiers has provided more than 350 million minutes of free talk time through calling cards for the troops, and recycled more than 15 million cell phones and mobile devices. With the help of generous donors, our mission continues.

The Global War on Terror has been a fact of life for nearly two decades. Soon enough, some of our country’s high school seniors will graduate and join the ranks of the world’s greatest military as it continues to fight back against terrorism, and we will be behind them with our support and gratitude.

Our Troops Are Still Fighting For Us, And For Freedom Across The World

August 26, 2018

Support HeroesFor civilians without a family member or close friend in service, it can be easy to forget that our military is still actively engaged in a global war on terror.

In the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the subsequent entry of the United States military into Iraq and Afghanistan, we saw regular news stories about developments in those regions; now, well over a decade later, the war has turned into background noise for many people. Battle deaths are relegated to local news stories, powerful wins against ISIS are fodder for political debates only.

We must resist that thinking. Even if you don’t personally know someone who is deployed, please remember that more than 1 million Americans in uniform are deployed all over the world. They need our support, even when we don’t see their stories on the news.

You can help those troops stay in touch with their families and friends at home by donating to Cell Phones For Soldiers. We use cash donations and the income from recycling your donated cell phones and mobile devices to purchase calling cards for men and women in service. To date, we have given more than 350 million minutes of free talk time.

The families of these men and women don’t have the luxury of forgetting about the war. They live it every day, and they deserve to hear from their loved ones without worrying about cost or security risks.

The need remains. Last year, we averaged sending 4,000 calling cards per week. Please help us continue our mission to provide a lifeline for America’s bravest and donate to Cell Phones For Soldiers today. Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

4 Great Reasons to Support Cell Phones For Soldiers

July 31, 2018

We’re proud of the work we do here at Cell Phones For Soldiers to support our troops and help veterans in need. Since 2004, we have worked to make a difference in the lives of the brave men and women who serve (and have served) our country in uniform.

And we couldn’t do it without our donors.

Thousands of people and organizations have helped Cell Phones For Soldiers help others, by donating old cell phones and other mobile devices and raising money for our cause. Donors understand the meaningful work we’ve done for the last 14 years, and we’d like to share some of the reasons you should give to Cell Phones For Soldiers to help us continue our mission.

  1. We help our troops stay connected with their loved ones.

Though international calling is less of a hassle than it was when we first started, many deployed troops find that having a personal phone is impossible during a tour, either because of cost or security reasons. Our Minutes That Matter program has given more than 350 million minutes (and counting!) on calling cards to deployed men and women so they can call home. Maintaining connections with home during a deployment is critical to morale and to reassuring families at home.

  1. We recognize the challenges our veterans face.

The transition to civilian life can be mentally, physically and emotionally stressful, and veterans are unemployed at a higher rate than nonveterans. Sometimes that means they can’t meet financial obligations—utility bills, rent, communication costs—and need a little boost. Our Helping Heroes Home program has provided one-time grants to more than 3,000 veterans. We believe that our veterans are owed a lifetime of support for their work protecting our country.

  1. We’re green!

Our name is a bit of a misnomer. Instead of giving recycled cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices directly to military servicemen and women, we recycle them for their valuable parts that can be sold and reused. This serves a number of environmentally friendly purposes: it keeps electronic waste from landfills, where harmful materials can cause damage to human health and fragile ecosystems; recycling plastic helps us do our part to keep non-biodegradable material out of our oceans; and recycling the rare earth metals used in electronic devices reduces the need for mining.

To date, we have recycled more than 15 MILLION mobile devices!

  1. It’s easy to give.

You can contribute to Cell Phones For Soldiers by donating money directly and securely through our website, or by sending us your old cell phones and mobile devices. You can either print off a shipping label here and send in your recycled items or find one of thousands of drop-off sites by doing a location search.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we rely on your tax-deductible donations to help us help our country’s bravest men and women. Even a small donation makes a difference—give today!

Upgrading Cell Phones for the New School Year? Recycle Your Old Devices to Help Our Heroes

July 18, 2018

It’s hard to believe that retailers are already announcing back-to-school sales, because it feels as if summer just started!

But as you’re getting ready to send your kids back to school or off to college, you may be preparing to take advantage of those sales and upgrade your mobile devices: cell phones, smartphones, and tablets. When you do, please recycle your old electronics with Cell Phones For Soldiers!

Recycling your old cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices with Cell Phones For Soldiers helps our troops stay connected with their loved ones while they’re deployed, and helps veterans with one-time emergency funds to handle difficulties in transitioning to civilian life. We take donated devices and recycle them for their valuable components, then use that income to provide free calling cards for our troops, or grants for veterans. To date, generous donations have allowed us to give more than 300 million minutes of completely free talk time and have helped more than 3,100 veterans.

Recycling your cell phone with us also serves another wonderful purpose: it keeps electronics out of the landfill, where they can have harmful effects on human and wildlife health, as well as cause damage to fragile ecosystems. Never put your old cell phones in the trash! Instead, recycle them with Cell Phones For Soldiers and help our country’s heroes in the process.

To donate cell phones, smartphones, tablets and digital music players to Cell Phones For Soldiers, either find a drop-off location near you, or mail your devices.

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