America Supports You: DoD Office Helps to Keep Troops Talking
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2005 Deployed troops are getting a helping hand ringing in the New Year without breaking the bank.
Robbie, Courtney and Brittany Bergquist prepare prepaid phone cards in the basement of their family's Norwell, Mass., home last year for delivery to a unit deploying to Iraq. The Defense Department's Contracting Center of Excellence has been collecting donations this holiday season for the Bergquist children's "Cell Phones for Soldiers" program. Photo by John D. Banusiewicz
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Employees of the Defense Department's Contracting Center of Excellence office have been collecting donations for the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" program - a grassroots member of DoD's "America Supports You" program -- as part of a holiday community outreach effort, said Charito Glorioso, chief of the CCE's Customer Education and Support Division.
"Cell Phones for Soldiers was selected because it didn't compete with (the Combined Federal Campaign) and is in line with our ultimate mission to directly support the warfighter," she said.
CFC is the only charitable campaign authorized to solicit federal employees at the work place.
Brittany Bergquist, 15, and her brother, Robbie, 13, of Norwell, Mass., founded the nonprofit Cell Phones for Soldiers in April 2004. The program recycles unwanted cell phones for cash, which is used to buy prepaid calling cards for troops overseas.
CCE's efforts amazed the Bergquists. "It's incredible," Brittany said. "It makes me feel really special that they chose us out of all the other organizations in the country."
Robbie added that the phones CCE collects will help a lot because they are worth anywhere from $1 to about $200 when recycled for cash. The batteries and accessories are recyclable as well, he said.
His hope is that everyone who passes through the Pentagon in one day would donate a phone. At even $1 each, that would add significantly to the $850,000 he and his sister already have raised through their program, Robbie said.
With a goal of collecting 3,000 unwanted cell phones, CCE established drop-off points in the Pentagon on Dec. 6. Cell phones, BlackBerries and pagers can be dropped off at collection sites in Corridors 1 and 2 and 9 and 10, as well as in the Concourse area through Dec. 31. Pentagon employees have donated more than 500 cell phones to date, Glorioso said.
"The success of this program is a result of the generosity of the DoD community here at the Pentagon. All the members of our team have either served on active duty or have family members currently serving," she said. "Call it our patriotic duty. We became involved in this project because we wanted to show support and appreciation for our troops."
Those who would like to donate but don't have access to the Pentagon can visit the Cell Phones for Soldiers Web site. State-by-state drop-off location information is available there, as are directions on how to send donations directly to a recycling center.
The donations are tax deductible, and receipts for tax purposes are given in either electronic or paper form. For those donating at the Pentagon, the receipts can be picked up at the drop-off locations.