New site opening to donate phones for soldiers

Posted: June 21, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — When wireless users decide to upgrade their cellphones, some area businesses are hoping they don’t just toss their old ones.

Verizon Wireless is about to open its second drop-off kiosk for Cell Phones for Soldiers, said Ellen Chesser, communications consultant at the Verizon Wireless store at 2621 S. Pleasant Valley Road, south of Tevis Street near Panera Bread.

She said her store’s kiosk has been open a couple of weeks now, and that the store at 257 Market St. in Rutherford Crossing is slated to open within days.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was started in 2004 by two children in Massachusetts and provides calling cards to active-duty service members and veterans using donations and funds raised by recycling cellphones, according to its website, cellphonesforsoldiers.com.

Chesser said her father had served in the Navy and her uncle had been in the Army.

“So, the military is something I’m really passionate about, and I was searching for charities that help out the soldiers while deployed,” she said. “With the service that the soldiers are doing for our country, the least we can do is give back.”

Already, there have been quite a few donations at the South Pleasant Valley Road store, Chesser said.

“It doesn’t matter what condition the phone is in,” she said.

Parts from damaged phones can be used to refurbish other phones, Chesser said.

She said Verizon will send the phones to the charity once a month.

Over the past nine years, 181 million minutes of free talk time has been provided to soldiers, and nearly 11 million cellphones have been recycled, and thus, kept out of landfills, according to the site. It says about 12,000 calling cards are mailed to soldiers every week.

Phones can also be dropped off at the Verizon store in the Apple Blossom Mall and at the Liberty Tax locations at 24 Weems Lane and 1137 Berryville Ave., according to the site.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com