A nationwide program that helps soldiers serving in the military call home for free has reached the Santa Clarita Valley.
Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS) is a registered non-profit organization that takes any unused or unwanted cell phones and recycles them to raise money. Those funds are then used to buy calling cards that are shipped out to troops presently on-duty.
Eternal Valley – one of 11 Los Angeles area Dignity Memorial funeral homes to join the program – is the first in Santa Clarita to set up a permanent drop-off location.
“We [Dignity Memorial] heard about this program and wanted to be a collection point for them. … We felt if we got everybody involved, we could be a major contributor to it,” said Richard Steinmetz, Manager of Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary.
CPFS was created by Massachusetts siblings Robbie and Brittany Bergquist in 2004, who were ages 12 and 13 at the time respectively. They became inspired to help after learning of an Army sergeant stationed overseas that had accrued a $7,000 phone bill simply from calling his family back home. The Bergquist’s then gathered up $21 in savings and effectively created the program.
CPFS now has more than 3,000 nationwide drop-off points, according to their website. 130,000 calling minutes were raised in 2009 alone. The cards are loaded with 60 minutes of calling time.
“It wasn’t just a project for school and it’s been so very successful,” Steinmetz said. “I have old cell phones that have no value once you get a new one, so I had two or three phones and thought that this was a good opportunity to do that.”
The CPFS website states that each year Americans get rid of about 130 million cell phones.
Eternal Valley has been running the program for about three months and has received about 20 phones.
For more information, check the CPFS website or call Eternal Valley at (626) 259-0800.