AFGE Launches Cell Phones for Soldiers Pilot Program

In an effort to support the troops stationed overseas, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is launching a Cell Phones for Soldiers Pilot Program.

Through the program, participants can drop off their used cell phones at designated drop-off sites. The phones will then be recycled for cash that will be used to purchase prepaid calling cards for soldiers who cannot afford to make expensive long-distance phone calls.

AFGE Locals will sponsor drop-off sites at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers across the country for individuals interested in donating their used cell phones. Any make or model cell phone with an attached battery will be accepted.

The AFGE Cell Phones for Soldiers program is an offshoot of the national Cell Phone for Soldiers program based in Massachusetts. Started by two teenagers, Brittany and Robbie Bergquist, the program started in 2004 and has raised more than $250,000 and sent more than 9,000 prepaid calling cards to U.S. troops.

"When we heard about this wonderful program started by two teenagers, we were inspired by their commitment to support our nation's soldiers during this difficult time," says Patrick Russell of AFGE's National VA Council and president of AFGE Local 1539. "Since many of our members are veterans, we thought this was a wonderful way to show our support for these brave men and women."

VA medical centers in the following cities will serve as deposit sites for used cell phones: Vancouver, Wash.; Roseburg, Ore.; Portland, Ore.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Tucson, Ariz.

"Our hope is to expand this program to more VA medical centers around the country," says Russell.

Each individual VA center will determine its own exact drop-off locations and hours of operation. For this information, as well as the name and number of a local contact, contact the AFGE Communications Department at (202) 639-6419.

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