By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Residents are giving back to soldiers, one call at a time.
Since January, the city has collected used cell phones to donate to the national Cell Phones for Soldiers program, which uses the phones to fund free calling cards for U.S. soldiers, enabling them to call their families.
So far, residents have donated 122 cell phones to generate 7,320 minutes of free calling time for soldiers stationed throughout the world.
City Elections Clerk Sue Ashcraft started the campaign locally when she was looking for a charity that she thought most residents would support. She said she likes that the program helps soldiers while encouraging recycling of a product not easily disposed of.
“Everyone’s got three or four cell phones sitting around that they don’t know what to do with,” Ashcraft said. “Now they’ve got somewhere to bring them.”
She said residents have shown their support for the cause by dropping off enough phones to necessitate a shipment once a month to program representatives in Dexter.
From there, the phones are sent to a cellular company that pays the organization for the phone so they can use the money to purchase phone cards. Each donated phone provides an hour of air time.
The program was begun by two Massachusetts teenagers with $21 of their own money. As support grew, so did the charity. They have collected more than $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 in prepaid calling cards to soldiers to date.
Cell phones can be dropped off at the City Clerk’s office during regular business hours.