More than 1,600 cell phones were collected through state Sen. Joseph Griffo and AT&T’s “Cell Phones for Soldiers” collection to help deployed troops and veterans phone home this holiday season.
The collection ran from Nov. 13 through Dec. 13 throughout Griffo’s district. Members of the public had the opportunity to drop of used cell phones and electronic devices, and for every donated phone valued at $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers provides 2 ½ hours of free talk time to troops by way of calling cards.
Nearly half of the donated cell phones and devices were collected by the CSEA Local 414 Veteran Committee in Rome, which collected 850 devices. Griffo says the collection has resulted in an estimated 80,000 minutes of free calls for troops.
“We know they want to call home; we want them to be able to,” said Greeley Ford, a senior technical network consulting engineer with AT&T. “It's our small way of trying to say, ‘We haven't forgotten about you and we know what's most important thing to do is talk to your family, know everybody home is okay and this is an expense we don't want you have to worry about.’”
Last year’s collection garnered 933 cell phones and devices, and 450 were collected the year before that.
“Every year, the residents of my district have stepped up to help out those who are in need of assistance and this year has been no different,” Griffo said in a news release. “The public has again shown how much they value and appreciate the brave men and women serving our country in the armed forces by donating their unused cell phones and other mobile devices to ensure that our troops have the opportunity to talk with their loved ones and families this holiday season. I would like to thank AT&T, Cell Phones For Soldiers and our very caring community for taking part in this collection drive and for helping those who protect us and keep us safe while sacrificing their time with their own families and friends.”