If you’re thinking about taking the plunge on a new mobile phone this weekend, you can probably get a pretty good deal. According to a recent survey, the benefits that mobile users enjoy when trading in for a new phone have never been higher. A May 20th Goldman Sachs report estimated that the average handset subsidy has risen to $128, a 16 percent increase during the past year.
But what about your old handset? Given that this is Memorial Day, here’s a suggestion: Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS).
Teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass. founded Cell Phones for Soldiers in 2004 with $21 of their own money. Since then, the 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas. That works out to more than 60,000,000 minutes of free calling cards.
The concept is pretty simple. Just drop your old phone off at one of more than 2,000 drop-off locations around the nation and it will be sold to a reseller. The money goes to purchase phone calling cards for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, donating your mobile phone also makes good environmental sense.
Earlier this year, Liberty Tax franchises collected more than 10,000 mobile phones at their nationwide locations. Little Caesars pizza restaurants offer free postage-paid labels so you can mail in your phone. AT&T, a Mobile Future member, offers drop-off boxes at all its U.S. wireless stores.
But probably the best reason to donate your old mobile phone is when you hear stories like this:
“My name is Isaac, I am a 16 year veteran of the US Air Force. I am currently deployed to the middle east on a 6 month tour of duty and my family is back in the states. Last week I received a knock on my door late at night and outside stood my Superintendant, my first Sergeant, and a chaplain. I got the news that a cousin of mine, who is more like a brother to me, had died suddenly of a brain anuerysm. I had used up my phone cards and had no way to call his parents and tell them how sorry I was to hear the news. They are not close to a military base where I could patch a call through to them.
“Just today I got a phone card from you guys…. I will now be able to call and tell them how sorry I am that I cannot be there in person to lay such a great man to rest. I cannot thank you enough for your giving hearts!
TSgt Isaac Gustafson, USAF Deployed
One more thing: If you’re walking through an airport or down a boardwalk this weekend and see a serviceman or –woman, go up and say thanks. This is one time when saying it in person really is better than doing it over the phone.