The Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors is collecting cell phones for the next month. (photo from Cell Phones for Soldiers Facebook page)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - You can now donate your used cell phones to help connect troops overseas with their families.
The Cell Phones for Soldiers charity collects and recycles gently used phones to raise money for pre-paid international calling cards. Spokesman Erin McCloskey said her organization distributes 12,000 cards per week to U.S. military bases around the world.
"We have 15,000 or more collection sites across the United States," McCloskey said. "Folks like realtors associations, churches, and other organizations help us raise these donations."
One such organization is the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors. Public Relations Chair Karen Stailey-Lander said the group started its own collection this week.
"We have some very resourceful and caring realtors in our organization," Stailey-Lander said. "We have the members bring in different projects that they've heard about and we just happened to have this one brought in by one of our realtor members."
The association is the first local organization participating in the program and their main message is that they want your old phones.
"They don't have to be working at all, just bring the cell phones in," Stailey-Lander said. "Each phone equals about five dollars and that money is able to provide two and a half hour of free talk time."
As McCloskey reminded, U.S. military members around the world still need support, even as the draw down of troops in Afghanistan continues.
"People hear a lot of news stories of troops coming home these days, but we always have troops in other countries supporting us," McCloskey said. "It's just really easy for us to help them talk to their loved ones for free."
The Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors is collecting for the next month, but Stailey-Lander said it could continue if activity remains high.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.