Have you ever traveled overseas and after returning home received the biggest phone bill you have ever seen? Who would have thought posting some photos to Instagram and checking in on Facebook could add up to such an astronomical amount?
In 2004 Brittany and Robbie Bergquist aged 13 and 12 respectively came to hear of an Army Reserve sergeant stationed in Iraq who racked up $7624 billion phoning home to speak with his family in the USA. Brittany and Robbie decided that they wanted to pay the phone bill for him and pooled all their money to come up with $21. They collected spare change from their friends, held car washes and manage to gather together around $1000. They took this money to open a bank account and on hearing their story the bank manager chipped in another $500.
The story of these two children caught the attention of local media with it spreading quickly across national media outlets. The Berquist family then went on to launch “Cell phones for Soldiers” a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing free communication channels for US service men and women to speak with their families. “Cell phones for Soldiers” took the novel approach of collecting unwanted cell phones and partnered with US company ReCellular who buy these phones from the charity to be recycled and resold. The money raised from each recycled phone (on average $5) goes toward buying phone cards for troops to stay in touch with their families.
According to Wikipedia since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided troops with 181 million minutes of free talk time and more than 10.8 million cell phones have been recycled which is also reducing landfill nationwide.
This report gives a very personal account of Brittany & Robbie’s journey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPdHyeTIcPA or you can read more about this inspiring organisation on their website http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ and keep in the back of your mind that it was the compassion and kindness of a 12 & 13 year old with $21 in their hands that started it all.