Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wireless Soldiers

While sorting through my office mail today I found a business reply envelope from an organization called -

Cell Phones for Soldiers

This is a non-profit group based in Massachusetts which is working with a Michigan-based company, "ReCellular", to recycle cellular telephones for use by US military personnel to stay in touch with their loved ones. However, the next few sentences which I copied from their website says it all for you:

“Americans will replace an estimated 130 million cell phones this year,” says Mike Newman, vice president of ReCellular, “with the majority of phones either discarded or stuffed in a drawer. Most people don’t realize that the small sacrifice of donating their unwanted phones can have a tremendous benefit for a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers.” Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $1 million in donations and distributed more than 400,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

Two elements are worth highlighting in above paragraph from their website:

1.) Americans will replace an "estimated 130 million cell phones this year..." - That is an amazing statistic that reminds us that recycling in this case can benefit many lives if we work to avoid the landfills.

2.) This organization was founded by two teenagers using $21 dollars of their own money.

What - no government program was involved? These are exactly the kind of people that make the USA the "city on the hill" for the rest of the world. However, I would encourage these founders to look beyond helping soldiers by expanding their distribution network to get as many Iraqis and Afghanis as they can onto the wireless network. Such a distribution of cellular technology would help improve several situations in these two recovering nations including:
  • provide an additional network of "eyes and ears" reporting potential terrorism to military and police personnel
  • enhance commerce by empowering citizens with access to market information and the ability to do comparative shopping simply by calling vendors in surrounding communities
  • end the isolation many citizens must fill as they stay hunkered down in their homes due to the ongoing violence

The founders of this program should be thanked repeatedly for their good works. One additional hopeful thing we should keep in mind is that the founders are YOUNG so they have enough time and energy to expand their capabilities in the directions I noted earlier in this blog posting.

Clean out your closets Americans,


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