UNCW Leadership Students Partner with Nonprofit to Help Soldiers Call Home

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Thursday, March 08, 2012

University of North Carolina Wilmington students have teamed up with the non-profit group Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. to help U.S. troops call home. With ongoing deployments to combat areas and other posts worldwide, as many as 369,000 troops are serving in the U.S. military overseas. By donating gently-used cellular phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers, Wilmington area residents can provide a precious connection to loved ones back home.

Community members can donate phones to the cause on the UNCW campus March 26-31. Collection boxes will be in eight locations on the UNCW campus starting Monday, March 26: the Seahawk Perch in Fisher Student Center, Randall Library, Wagoner Dining Hall, Cameron Hall, Education Building, Admissions Office, Friday Annex, Campus Recreation Center and the Campus Activities & Involvement Center (CAIC) in the Fisher Student Center.

The drive will culminate  during the UNCW Military Appreciation Day Baseball Game and the UNCW Track & Field meet on Saturday, March 31. Student organizers from the leadership minor program in the Watson School of Education will be personally on hand to collect cell phones at those events. The students invite the community to come out, support U.S. military personnel and the Seahawks, and to bring any old, unused cell phones they may have lying around.

"The capstone course of the leadership minor develops contemporary applications of leadership, and the major course requirement is a comprehensive collaborative leadership project. This year our commitment is to Cell Phones for Soldiers to highlight UNCW's commitment to the military," said student Keith Fraser.

Now young adults, siblings Robbie and Brittany Bergquist founded Cell Phones for Soldiers at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 114 million minutes of free talk time to U.S. service men and women stationed around the world. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase pre-paid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones for Soldiers distributes 12,000 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies and VA hospitals.

"Each year we have been humbled by the amount of people and organizations like UNCW's LED minor students that take the initiative to support our troops," said co-founder Brittany Bergquist. "We have also watched the communication gap between our armed forces and their loved ones continue to grow as more troops are deployed for their third or fourth tour overseas."

Donated phones are sent to Michigan-based ReCellular for recycling. For every donated phone valued at just $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers is able to provide two and a half hours of free talk time to deployed troops.

For more information, contact Dr. Joanne Nottingham, leadership studies faculty coordinator, 910.962.3439 or nottinghamj@uncw.edu

Media contact: Dana Fischetti, media relations manager, 910.508.3127 or fischettid@uncw.edu