Honor Role: Cell Phones for Soldiers
A daily staple in our lives is the cell phone. Whether you use it for calling, texting, gaming, selfies, or social media – it’s always there.
One organization knows the importance of this modern tool and wanted to make sure that deployed soldiers do not feel this void in their lives. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit dedicated to getting those serving free communication services.
“One morning before school, my sister Brittany and I were watching the morning news with our parents,” recalls Robbie Bergquist, a co-founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers. “We heard the story of a local soldier returning from Iraq with an almost $8,000 phone bill.”
This news piece slammed the young kids into reality. “Our cousin had recently been deployed and the story really hit home for us,” he remembers, as they eventually had two cousins stationed overseas down the line. “How could a man who was serving his country not be able to call his family for free?”
The two youngsters decided to make a difference. They took all the money they had in their piggy banks, scrounged up extra lunch money and even put on a car wash to send money to the man they saw on TV.
“Our greatest educational voice at that time came from our parents,” Robbie says of starting the program with his sister, when they were just 12 and 13 years old. “They instilled in us that it was important to think of others before we thought of ourselves.”
From that point as kids to this very day, Cell Phones for Soldiers has exponentially grown. With three staff members, thousands of volunteers and over 3,900 recycled cell phone drop off locations, their childhood goal has become a big resource to the military.
“My role with the charity is as co-founder and director,” he tells us, here at VA Home Loan Centers. “Along with my sister Brittany, we travel both nationally and internationally for media appearances, speaking engagements and work with our current and new potential partners to promote Cell Phones For Soldiers so that we can continue to assist military members.”
“Servicemen and women are so humble, and unbelievably appreciative,” Robbie said. His favorite story was of a sailor on board an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic who had received phone cards from the organization so they could call home. “The sailor told us that listening to our story overwhelmed him with emotion, bringing him to leave the room. Worried about being seen crying, the sailor walked outside to gather his emotions and looked around to find many other sailors sharing his feeling.”
Robbie says that shipping costs can be a real struggle for the organization. “We’re always grateful for each and every donated device, but even more delighted when supporters are able to take the extra step and pay for shipping as well.”
Cell Phones for Soldiers is always looking for new evangelists to help spread the word and contribute to the cause. “Supporters can keep up with the latest on Cell Phones For Soldiers by signing up for ournewsletter here.”
“During National Military Appreciation Month, we along with our friends at KIND Snacks are asking for help in thanking our troops and veterans for their sacrifice and bravery,” Robbie states. From this point through May 31st, he asks that those on Twitter use the hashtag #thankskindly and thank the military with the trend topic.
“Robots will then transform the tweets into physical, handwritten notes and we’ll deliver the notes to deserving heroes worldwide,” he continued. You can see how the robots do it here:http://www.kindsnacks.com/thankskindly/.
Brittany and Robbie are both grateful for the chance to thank those who have served. “We have grown up with the opportunity to meet thousands of active duty military members and veterans,” Robbie proclaimed. “We are so proud to have created something that supports them in a small way for all that they do for us.”
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