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      Turn old cell phones into talk time for troops abroad

      Turn your old cell phone into a prepaid calling card for our troops by donating it to Cell Phones for Soldiers. / WNWO archive

      With more than 150,000 troops serving overseas, a local business is helping them stay connected to their loved ones at home through the Cell Phones for Soldiers project.

      Area residents can drop off old cell phones at Coyle Funeral Home and Cremation Services between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday for the project, which uses proceeds from the recycled phones to buy calling cards for soldiers.

      Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

      "Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family TMs appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces," said the teens' father, Bob Bergquist. "Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments."

      The charity hopes to fulfill its goal for 2011 through new alliances and continued partnerships with corporate supporters including AT&T, General Motors, Santa Rita Wine and many valuable partners consisting of corporate partners, small businesses, individuals, non-profit organizations, faith institutes, school groups and others. Supporters have raised funds for the program through the collection of used mobile phones and the contribution of cash donations.

      "Americans will replace an estimated 130 million cell phones this year with the majority of phones either discarded or stuffed in a drawer," said Mike Newman of ReCellular, one company that helps turn donated phones into proceeds for the organization. "Most people don't realize that the small sacrifice of donating their unwanted phones can have a tremendous benefit for a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers."

      Each donated phone can turn into an hour of talk time for soldiers abroad. To learn more about the Coyle Funeral Home, visit or call 419-865-1295.