Support our troops, donate a cell phone


DeKalb Township will be partnering with Cell Phones for Soldiers to provide soldiers overseas with prepaid calling cards. Donations can be dropped off at the DeKalb Township offices, located at 2323 S. Fourth St., near the I-88 tollway.

By Thomas Verschelde

The DeKalb Township will partner with Cell Phones for Soldiers to help provide soldiers overseas with prepaid calling cards so they can stay in touch with their loved ones.

Sarah Merritt, public relations representative for Cell Phones for Soldiers, said the company is a non-profit organization started in 2004 by a brother and sister.

“Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded in 2004 by Brittany and Robbie Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13, with just a few dollars from their piggy banks,” Merritt said. “They heard the story of a soldier who racked up an almost $8,000 cell phone bill from calling his loved ones from Iraq. They were moved by his story and decided each soldier deserved to call home for free.”

DeKalb Township Supervisor Eric Johnson said he was cleaning when he came up with the idea to partner with Cell Phones for Soldiers.

“I was cleaning out an old desk drawer and discovered I had four old cell phones that I needed to get rid of, but I did not want to throw them in the trash,” Johnson said in a press release.

After doing some research, Johnson decided Cell Phones for Soldiers was the best fit for DeKalb. Johnson said the program began in DeKalb on Aug. 1.

“This program benefits everyone who is involved, and I wanted DeKalb Township to be a part of this great service,” Johnson said.

Crystal Emerick, public relations representative of Cell Phones for Soldiers, said the organization has provided soldiers overseas with over 114 million minutes of talk time since it began.

“On average, each donated cell phone generates 60 minutes of talk time for service members overseas,” Merritt said.

Johnson said all donated phones are either refurbished or scrapped for parts in accordance to EPA guidelines by ReCellular.

Samantha Nichols, junior elementary education major, said she thinks it is good that the troops will be able to benefit from this program.

“Most people leave their old cell phones laying around their houses and if there’s a better cause that they can go to, a lot of people would do that,” she said.

Jasmine Bibb, senior physical therapy major, said she turns her old phones in to the cell phone company.

“I did hear that it’s not good for the environment,” Bibb said.

Johnson said a goal of the program is to prevent electronic waste from cell phones from getting into landfills.

“I think it says a lot about our community since it’s not sponsored or driven by government; it’s a volunteer organization that’s doing it,” said DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen.

Editor’s note: Staff writer Christopher Gibbs contributed to this article.