VIDEO: Cell Phones for Soldiers Comes to South JerseyPosted:
MILLVILLE - In 2004, Robbie and Brittany Bergquist founded Cell Phones for Soldiers to help give the military a chance to talk to their loved ones for free.
Eleven years later, the siblings watched the idea that started when they were 12 and 13 turn into millions of phone minutes for our soldiers.
“We decided we would recycle the phones and with the money from that transaction, we would purchase prepaid phone cards," said Robbie Bergquist, Co-Founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers. "It’s a 60-minute phone card and it’s 60 true minutes. All they have to do is scratch off a pin number on the back of a phone card and use it with a landline and they’re able to call home, for free, for 60 minutes.”
Because cell phones can be traced by location, the group gives soldiers phone minutes. They collect money from refurbishing or repurposing older phones that are donated and use it to buy as many minutes as they can.
“We have recycled over 15 million cell phones since 2004," said Robbie Bergquist. "About 230 million minutes have been sent overseas.”
Cell phones for soldiers have collection sites all over the United States, including a few in South Jersey. Four AAA locations will be collecting cell phones through the end of December to give soldiers more talk time.
“All you have to do is bring in a used phone or accessories," said Rich Bradley, Public Affairs Specialist, AAA South Jersey. "We have drop off boxes in all four of our locations and they just drop it off, we have a receipt so they can use it as a tax write-off, and that’s it. We enjoy doing anything we can to reach out to the military community and helping them. It’s very small, but it’s significant, so we’re hoping we get a great turnout for something like this.”
AAA also gives out military discounts and has special parking spaces for their visiting veterans. Their Voorhees location is already on their second box of cell phones after only one week of collections.
Robbie Bergquist says that on average, one donated cell phone is about two and a half hours of talk time.
SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.