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Phones collected for soldiers

Margaret Mirshak | Monday, March 31, 2008

Administrative assistant for the political science department Elizabeth Tucker began collecting used cell phones in conjunction with the organization Cell Phones for Soldiers as a way to show her gratitude for U.S. troops overseas. So far, she has collected 20 phones.

Cell Phones for Soldiers, which collects old cell phones and sends them to a Michigan-based recycling center, distributes pre-paid calling cards to soldiers oversees in order to defray the massive costs of overseas calls.

“It is a good way to give something back to those who sacrifice for us. It helps soldiers stay in touch with family back home,” Tucker said.

Tucker, who is married to a military veteran, came across the Cell Phones for Soldiers Web site and wanted to start a local collection point for the Michiana area. She packages the collected cell phones and sends them to ReCellular, Inc. in Michigan.

Tucker said recycling cell phones is also beneficial to the environment. Americans replace nearly 130 million cell phones each year, filling landfills with discarded phones and producing tons of solid waste.

“Rather than throw [a cell phone] away in a landfill, donating it can help soldiers and the environment,” Tucker said.

Cell Phones for Soldiers also collects electronic cell phone accessories such as power supplies and batteries.

Since the beginning of Cell Phones for Soldiers, the non-profit organization has distributed more than 400,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers. In 2008, the program hopes to collect 15,000 cell phones each month and purchase 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for soldiers, according to the program’s Web site www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.