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Local communities help deployed phone home

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airman 1st Class Nikiynecole Felder, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs graphic artist, donates an old phone to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Sept. 4 at the 168th Air Refueling Wing Headquarter's building. Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles old and unwanted cell phones for cash. The cash is used to buy pre-paid calling cards which are then distributed to U.S. troops. The charity has already distributed thousands of calling cards to deployed servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airman 1st Class Nikiynecole Felder, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs graphic artist, donates an old phone to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Sept. 4 at the 168th Air Refueling Wing Headquarter's building. Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles old and unwanted cell phones for cash. The cash is used to buy pre-paid calling cards which are then distributed to U.S. troops. The charity has already distributed thousands of calling cards to deployed servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airman 1st Class Nikiynecole Felder, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs graphic artist, donates an old phone to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Sept. 4 at the 168th Air Refueling Wing Headquarter's building. Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles old and unwanted cell phones for cash. The cash is used to buy pre-paid calling cards which are then distributed to U.S. troops. The charity has already distributed thousands of calling cards to deployed servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airman 1st Class Nikiynecole Felder, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs graphic artist, donates an old phone to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Sept. 4 at the 168th Air Refueling Wing Headquarter's building. Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles old and unwanted cell phones for cash. The cash is used to buy pre-paid calling cards which are then distributed to U.S. troops. The charity has already distributed thousands of calling cards to deployed servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Eielson AFB and Fort Wainwright will be providing drop-off sites for the non-profit program, Cell Phones for Soldiers.

Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles old and unwanted cell phones for cash. The cash is used to buy pre-paid calling cards which are then distributed to U.S. troops. The charity has already distributed thousands of calling cards to deployed servicemembers.

There are current drop-off locations in the local area, and the program anticipates locations in Fairbanks in the near future,

On base, you can donate old cell phones to Cheryl Adamson, 168th Air Refueling Wing family program coordinator, at room 113 in the 168th ARW Headquarters' building. To reach her, call 377-8715.

At Fort Wainwright, Margie Achman, the post's Red Cross representative, has a collection box at her office. She is located at 1024 Apple St. To reach her, call 353-7234.

North Pole Computers, located at 301 N. Santa Clause Lane, Suite 5, is also an official collection site. To reach the store, call 488-6563.

Servicemembers can make a request for a calling card for themselves or their unit through the site.

The program was started in April 2004 by 13-year-old Brittany and 12-year-old Robbie Bergquist of Norwell, Mass.

According to the official Web site, the brother and sister started the program after hearing a news report about a local soldier who ran up a massive phone bill calling home from Iraq. They decided they wanted to help and donated their piggy bank money, collected snack money from their friends at school, and with $21, they went to the bank to open an account. The South Shore Savings Bank of Hanover, Mass. donated $500.00 to help them get started.

Their goal is to help deployed servicemembers call home. They hope to provide as many Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen as possible with prepaid calling cards for now with an ultimate goal of providing banks of satellite phones, video phones and telecommunications.

Through generous donations and the money made from recycling used cell phones, they have already distributed thousands of calling cards to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and other locations in Southwest Asia.

There are now over 3,000 cell phone drop off locations across the United States, which can be located through the charity's website: http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/.