BUFFALO (Submitted) – As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July Holiday in a few weeks, local UAW members and its Veterans Committee teamed up with AT&T to help collect more than 350 gently-used mobile devices over the past three months that will now be donated to Cell Phones For Soldiers. The timing of the donation to coincide with America’s celebration of freedom is a fitting tribute to recognize and celebrate our active military and veterans that have served to protect our country and freedom. The phones were collected at AT&T stores and UAW Locals across Western New York including Lockport, Buffalo, Tonawanda and Hamburg.
By donating these cell phones and mobile devices to Cell Phones For Soldiers, a joint effort by UAW members, the UAW Veterans Committee, AT&T and the greater Western New York community, we will provide US troops and injured veterans more than 52,000 minutes of free calling time to their loved ones back home. Proceeds from the recycled devices will be used to buy long distance calling cards for troops at home and abroad. Although the military landscape is ever changing, as many as 200,000 troops are serving in the U.S. military around the world. By donating to Cell Phones For Soldiers, the UAW, AT&T and the WNY Community is providing a valuable lifeline for America’s bravest men and women.
The collection drive spanned all of WNY, where the public was able to drop off any used mobile devices at collection bins in AT&T stores throughout the region, and UAW members were able to collect devices from friends and family and donate them in a collection bin in one of the 14 local manufacturing facilities that employees an UAW workforce or at their local’s union hall.
For every donated phone valued at just $5, Cell Phones For Soldiers is able to provide 2 ½ hours of free talk time to deployed troops through calling cards.
“This is such a great opportunity to help our veterans reach out to family and friends wherever they may be stationed, commented Jeff Binz, Director UAW Region 9. “We here in Region 9 are especially proud of our Region 9 Veterans Committee for all their great work, but when teamed up with AT&T, the UAW membership and the great community of Western New York, it only brings great results for our honorable Veterans and deployed troops.”
“At AT&T we provide solutions to better connect the world, but nothing brings us more pride and joy than being able to connect our active military and veterans with their loved ones,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York President, AT&T. “I applaud the UAW leading this union and community wide collection drive with AT&T and I thank everyone that donated a mobile device. Their generosity will make the 4th of July holiday more enjoyable for some of America’s bravest men and women and their families.
“As a proud veteran I know that for deployed service members, regular communication is extremely important because it can raise morale and help families cope with separation,” said Guy Newell, UAW local 774 retiree and chairman of the UAW Veterans Committee for Region 9. “While letters and emails are a good line of communication, there is no substitute for speaking to your family over the phone. On behalf of the UAW Veterans Committee I would like to thank our patriotic UAW membership and AT&T for making this possible so our men and women in uniform can keep in touch with loved ones.”
Cell Phones For Soldiers was founded in 2004 by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13 after they heard the story of a local soldier with a cell phone bill that totaled nearly $8,000. They decided to help this one man with just $21 of their own money and Cell Phones For Soldiers was born from there.
The charity has since provided more than 216 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world through its calling card program, Minutes That Matter. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones For Soldiers distributes 1,500 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies and VA hospitals.
“Each year we have been humbled by the number of people and organizations like AT&T and UAW that take part in this important initiative to support our military members,” said Cell Phones For Soldiers co-founder Robbie Bergquist. “The communication gap between those serving and their families is a crucial need that Cell Phones For Soldiers is committed to addressing for years to come.”
Since 2004, more than 11.7 million phones have been recycled or repurposed. Approximately half of the phones processed are reconditioned and reused.
For more information, please visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.
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
To prepare your mobile phone for donation here are some tips on how to erase all personal information that may be stored on it to protect your privacy:
- Remove your phone’s SIM card Erase your address book, photos, messages and other stored information
- Restore the device factory settings on your device
- For instructions on how to do this, go to owner’s manual or to the manufacturers’ website