Something you may consider junk could go along toward reconnecting troops stationed overseas with their friends and family during the holidays.

Senator Joe Griffo and AT&T are partnering for a Cell Phones for Soldiers collection in Oneida County. The old phones are either recycled or re-purposed and the money they raise is used to purchase prepaid calling cards for service men and women.

Griffo says the local drive last year collected some 450 cell phones, resulting in over 20,000 minutes worth of free calls for troops. He's hoping to surpass that amount this year.

''I didn't know what we could do, but I just wanted to something to help military members. I started talking to AT&T last year, and they said we have this program. And, the Cell Phones for Soldiers program I was generally aware of and we said 'let's do this','' Griffo said.

Sen. Joe Griffo, Greeley Ford of AT&T and active military members from central New York discuss Cell Phones for Troops (Jeff Monaski, WIBX)

Greeley Ford, an AT&T senior network consulting engineer says since 2007, AT&T and it's customers have donated more than $4.6 million and distributed over 600,000 of the prepaid calling cards.

Ford added that while all cell phones will be accepted, he's encouraging anyone with an old GSM 2G phone to donate it to the drive. ''The AT&T 2G network is being shutdown at the end of this year so it's a great reason to donate it to a good cause because that's the only thing it's going to be good for.''

Phones can be dropped in Cell Phones for Troops collection boxes at the following locations through December 12, 2016:

·        Erwin Library – 104 Schuyler St., Boonville
·        Carpenter’s Paint & Hardware – 59 Main St., Camden
·        Herb Philipson’s – New Hartford Shopping Center, 1 Center St., New Hartford
·        Herb Philipson’s – 1899 Black River Blvd., Rome
·        Jervis Public Library – 613 North Washington St., Rome
·        Chanatry’s Hometown Market – 485 French Rd., Utica
·        Utica Public Library – 303 Genesee St., Utica
·        Central New York Veteran’s Outreach Center – 726 Washington St., Utica
·        New York State Office Building (2nd floor lobby) – 207 Genesee St., Utica
·        Waterville Public Library – 206 White St., Waterville
·        Vernon Downs Casino Hotel – 4229 Stuhlman Rd., Vernon
·        Turning Stone Resort Casino – 5218 Patrick Rd., Verona
·        AT&T Stores: 4777 Commercial Drive, New Hartford / 224 N. Genesee Street, Utica / 1319 Erie Blvd, Rome / 220 Genesee Street, Oneida


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