|Benji, a stray adopted by a PetStore.com staff member from the North Central Los Angeles City Shelter, lounges with a Cell Phones for Soldiers envelope.|
Online pet supply store PetStore.com and non-profit Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. are asking pet owners to help troops call home by donating gently-used cellular phones. Although the military landscape is ever changing, as many as 290,000 troops are serving in the U.S. military overseas around the world. By donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers, pet owners can provide troops with that precious connection to loved ones back home.
“The iPhone 5 was released just five days ago, so there are a ton of people looking to upgrade to a new mobile phone,” said Ben Ros, Director of Operations for PetStore.com. “PetStore.com will include pre-paid Cell Phones for Soldiers envelopes inside the packages we ship to pet owners during the month of October. We hope folks will seize this opportunity to help our soldiers abroad stay in touch with their families, pets included.”
Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 168 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones for Soldiers distributes 12,000 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies and VA hospitals.
“The Military Benefits Deployment Center lists staying in touch with loved ones as a top-five ‘How to Survive Deployment’ strategy,” said Ros. “There are only so many videos you can watch online of soldiers reuniting with their families and pets after tours of duty before you feel compelled to do something for these brave volunteers.”
Some quick facts about the Cell Phones for Soldiers program:
- In 2011, Cell Phones for Soldiers shared 690,000 communication tools with military families, providing more than 41 million minutes of talk time.
- The program collected and recycled 1.5 million phones in 2011.
- Since 2004, more than 10.5 million cell phones have been recycled, reducing the impact on landfills.
- A $5 donation warrants 2.5 hours of talk time; a $100.00 donation gives 50 hours or 3,000 minutes of talk time
- There are approximately 15,000 collection points across the nation, including PetStore.com headquarters in Garden Grove, CA.
- In 2012, Cell Phones for Soldiers launched their newest program, Helping Heroes Home. Helping Heroes Home provides emergency funds for returning veterans to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships
Donated phones are sent to Michigan-based ReCellular for recycling. For every donated phone valued at $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers is able to provide two and a half hours of free talk time to deployed troops.
Approximately half of the phones ReCellular processes are reconditioned and reused. Phones and components that cannot be refurbished are dismantled and responsibly recycled to reclaim materials, including:
- Gold, silver and platinum from circuit boards
- Copper wiring from phone chargers
- Nickel, iron, cadmium and lead from battery packs
- Plastic from phone cases and accessories
For more information about Cell Phones for Soldiers, please visit http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/. To shop thousands of pet supplies and have a Cell Phones for Soldiers envelope delivered to you for free with your order, visit http://www.petstore.com.