Norwell, MA (PRWEB) August 20, 2004
A brother and sister got a surprise phone call from the White House to thank them for their efforts to help service members call home. The youngsters have raised over $130,000 to be used to help service men and women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan make long-distance calls home to family. Their initiative and determination to collect old cell phones to raise funds to help pay for pre-paid calling cards for service members has even attracted attention from President George W. Bush.
"We got a call from the White House saying the president is very proud of what we're doing and that when he was in the Massachusetts area, he wanted to come meet us," explained Brittany Bergquist, 13. Bergquist and her 12-year-old brother Robbie, plan to raise $9 million to help deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq pay for expensive calls home to stay in touch with family. Their eventual goal is to buy satellite phones and prepaid calling cards for distribution to military units.
A major source of the funds they are raising comes from collecting old cell phones for reuse through RMS Communications Group Inc., which provides a cell phone collection program. The firm receives the phones collected by http://www.CellPhonesForSoldiers.com and pays the costs of collection and a fee per phone back to the group.
It is estimated that there are 500 million unused cell phones stored away, with an additional 130 million per year being added to that number as users upgrade to the latest and greatest phones, according to INFORM, a national environmental research organization. There are a number of hazardous chemicals in wireless phones and batteries that are a threat to the environment when tossed into a landfill. Turning old cell phones in for reuse protects the environment and helps worthwhile causes.
It all began a few months ago when the brother and sister were alarmed because they learned about a soldier serving in Iraq who had a $7,000 phone bill he and his family were unable to pay. The two began a collection in school that started with sacrificed lunch money and has now expanded to much larger donations of cash and used cell phones. "They actually gave me their snack money and their ice cream money just to help it get off the ground," Brittany said of her seventh grade classmates. The students also brought her old cell phones they found tucked away in drawers and closets.
It is important to the morale of service members to be able to stay in touch with family while they are deployed in places like Iraq. Many are only making $1,500 a month and cannot afford the $.39-a-minute long-distance charge or the $3-a-minute roaming charge they often encounter. "If they can't call home, their families have no idea if they're OK or not," said Brittany of her concerns.
Donations of wireless cellular phones can be made through the groupÂs website at http://www.CellPhonesForSoldiers.com
RMS Communications Group, Inc
4551 NW 44th
Ocala, FL 34482
David M. Bresnahan
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