This item that many discard in the trash can literally buy free talk-time for U.S. soldiers stationed around the globe to speak with friends and family this holiday season.

We're talking about cell phones. It doesn't have to be new or even necessarily working. It can be old, flip, fold, cracked-screen, doesn't work/never worked, got it for free and hated it, found it broken in a box in the basement. Senator Joe Griffo is again teaming with AT&T and the Central New York Veteran's Outreach Center in the Cell Phone for Soldiers Campaign. Not only will they take you're old mobile phone, tablets are also being collected this year.



If the device has a value of at least $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers will donate 2.5 hours of free talk time for American troopers at home and abroad, Griffo (R, C, I - Rome) said.

It's being held in honor of Veterans Day and Military Family Appreciation Month. The collection begins tomorrow, Veterans Day, and continues through December 11.

“The holidays can be a difficult time for members of our military because they are often so far away from their families," Sen. Griffo said.  “The simple sound of a loved one’s voice can go a long way to lift their spirits. These brave men and women have stepped up to serve our nation, and I am proud to be teaming up with AT&T, the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center, Cell Phones for Soldiers and local businesses and organizations to help connect these troops to their families back home.”

via Senator Joe Griffo's Office
via Senator Joe Griffo's Office


Where can you drop off a phone or tablet?

The following locations are accepting Cell Phones for Soldiers donations:
  • Jervis Public Library: 613 N. Washington St., Rome
  • Adirondack Bank Center, 400 Oriskany St. W., Utica
  • Central New York Veterans Outreach Center, 726 Washington St., Utica
  • Utica Public Library: 303 Genesee St., Utica
  • Chanatry’s Hometown Market: 485 French Road, Utica
  • Utica State Office Building: 207 Genesee St., Utica
  • Turning Stone Resort Casino: 5218 Patrick Road, Verona
  • New Hartford Public Library: 2 Library Lane, New Hartford
  • Lloyds of Lowville: 7405 S. State St., Lowville

Also, these Mohawk Valley AT&T locations are also taking phones for the cause:

  • 4777 Commercial Drive, New Hartford
  • 1319 Erie Boulevard W., Rome
  • 224 N. Genesee St., Utica
  • 220 Genesee St., Oneida
This is the sixth year Griffo and AT&T have spearheaded such a drive in the Mohawk Valley, donating some 58-hundred phones in the first five years. The local effort alone has provided troops with more than 500,000 minutes, or more than 8,300 hours, of free calls.

“As a company that connects the world, AT&T believes that one of the best ways to support and thank the brave men and women that protect and serve our country, and the veterans before them, is by helping to keep them connected with their family, friends and loved ones,” said Greeley Ford, a senior network engineer with AT&T.
Cell Phones For Soldiers was founded in 2004 by two kids, aged 12 and 13, and has since provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world through its calling card program, Minutes That Matter, officials said.

As an added bonus, organizers say the thousands of cell phones that would otherwise go in the trash are properly recycled, keeping things like cadmium, mercury and lithium batteries out of landfills.

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