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Connecting Heroes: How Recycled Phones Forge Lifelines for Soldiers

By Emma Barhydt

In an era where communication is everything, active duty military personnel can still be isolated while deployed. To bridge that gap, the Cell Phones For Soldiers (CPFS) initiative has emerged to provide essential connection for deployed servicemen and women. Since its inception in 2004, CPFS “has provided more than 400 million minutes of airtime to servicemen and women deployed around the world” according to their website. This national non-profit organization serves two very important missions:

One, keeping our servicemen and women connected with their loved ones by transforming discarded cell phones and tablets into international calling cards for military personnel; and two, addressing the urgent issue of electronic waste by collecting old and discarded phones and tablets. The essence of Cell Phones For Soldiers lies in a simple idea. The idea to provide our troops and veterans with cost-free communication services and emergency funding.

In providing this service, CPFS addresses a critical need for connection among military members. The initiative ensures that our troops and veterans have access to essential communication services, facilitating moments of connection that are crucial for morale and mental well-being.

The emotional value of this connection cannot be overstated, as it offers solace, comfort, and the strength to face the challenges that come with military service. In the miles and duties that separate soldiers from their loved ones, each phone call serves as a reminder of the life awaiting them and of the reasons they serve.

Each phone that is refurbished and sold or responsibly broken down for parts is used “to purchase international calling cards for troops to call home and to provide emergency funding to veterans,” as stated on their website. Cell Phones For Soldiers embodies a unique synergy between environmental stewardship and support for our armed forces, and when individuals choose to donate their no longer needed cell phones to this noble cause they are participating in a cycle of giving that extends far beyond the act of recycling.

By repurposing electronic waste, Cell Phones For Soldiers is aiding the mitigation of the global e-waste crisis, which poses a significant challenge to environmental sustainability. Having recycled over 25 million cell phones (so far), the organization has significantly reduced the environmental impact on landfills, turning potential electronic waste into a lifeline for those deployed across the globe.

With drop-off locations spanning across the country, including three in our area, the initiative makes it easy for individuals to contribute to this noble cause. Whether it’s a single outdated cell phone or several, each donation undergoes a process where devices are “wiped of personal information and refurbished for sale or responsibly recycled in parts,” CPFS says on their website. This ensures that every contribution directly supports the mission of providing precious moments of connection to our troops and veterans.

By repurposing electronic waste, Cell Phones For Soldiers contributes to the mitigation of the global e-waste crisis, which poses a significant challenge to environmental sustainability. Electronic devices, when discarded improperly, can release harmful toxins into the environment, contributing to pollution and health risks.

Upon receipt, each device is subject to a thorough process aimed at safeguarding personal information which involves meticulously wiping all stored data. Following this, the cell phones are either refurbished, which gives them a new lease on life, or responsibly recycled. This latter process ensures that devices that are beyond repair are dismantled in an environmentally sound manner, with their components being salvaged for reuse or disposed of properly.

The initiative of Cell Phones For Soldiers stands as a testament to the profound impact that a single, seemingly simple action can have on the environment and on the men and women dedicated to serving their country. In a world where every connection counts, your involvement can turn the tide for a serviceman or woman awaiting the sound of a familiar voice. Let us come together to ensure that no call home goes unanswered and that our commitment to our planet is as steadfast as our support for our troops.

You have the power to make a significant difference in the lives of our troops and the health of our planet. Start by gathering any unused cell phones or tablets from your home, office, or community. Take you old tablets and phones and visit one of the three Cell Phones For Soldiers drop-off locations near us.

The drop off locations are:

1) Ninth District Veterans Association, 14 Riversville Road Greenwich, CT 06831. Daily 12PM – 8PM, 203-532-0130, astorm003@aol.com

2) Johnstone Supply, 66 Brockway Place White Plains, NY 10601. 7:30 – 5:00 Monday – Friday, 7:30 – 12:00 Noon, Saturday, 914-227-4491, ro.birdsall@johnstonesupply.com

3) Stamford Fire Department Local 786, 215 Washington Boulevard, Stamford, CT 06902.

Every device counts, and together, we can ensure that our service members stay connected to their loved ones and contribute to a more sustainable world. Remember, your small action can have a monumental impact — let’s unite to support our troops and safeguard our environment. For more information you can visit cellphonesforsoldiers.com

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