Cell Phones for Soldiers
Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded in 2004, when Brittany Bergquist, then 13, and her brother, Robbie, 12, heard a news story about an Army Reserve sergeant stationed in Iraq who had racked up a $7,624 cell phone bill calling home to his family in the states.
The teenagers pooled their money to raise their first $21. The pair went on to collect change from their friends and hold a car wash that raised almost $1,000. When they went to a local bank to start an account for the collection drive, the bank chipped in another $500.
The local media reported on what the Bergquist family was doing, and the coverage led to a massive surge in contributions. That, in turn, put Brittany and Robbie in the national news and won them support from across the country. That inspired the Bergquist family to launch “Cell Phones for Soldiers” as formal 501(c)3 charitable organization – with the goal of helping every service member call home for free.
The organization took a novel approach to fundraising, collecting old, unused cellphones.
As their efforts gained momentum, the Bergquists gained more media coverage, including CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and Foxnews. In 2011, Brittany and Robbie Bergquist received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
In 2012, Cell Phones for Soldiers shared more than 515,000 communication tools with military families, providing 31 million minutes of talk time. The program collected and recycled more than 815,000 phones in 2012. Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided troops with 192 million minutes of free talk time. Since 2004, more than 11 million cell phones have been recycled, reducing the impact on landfills. Approximately 12,000 calling cards are mailed each week. A $5 donation warrants 2.5 hours of talk time; a $100.00 donation gives 50 hours or 3,000 minutes of talk time There are more than 2,600 collection points across the nation. In 2012, Cell Phones for Soldiers launched its newest program, Helping Heroes Home. Helping Heroes Home provides emergency funds for returning veterans to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships
- "Cell Phones For SoldiersSM CBS Evening News". CBS. 2004-07-05. Retrieved 2004-07-04.
- "About Cell Phones For SoldiersSM Cell Phones for Soldiers". CPFS. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- "Cell Phones For SoldiersSM CBS Evening News". CBS. Retrieved 2004-07-04.
- "Girl starts 'CPFS' programSM FOXNews.com". Fox. 2004-04-29. Retrieved 2007-05-24.