Two donation locations in Vero Beach
By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Now there are double the locations in Vero Beach to donate old cell phones and provide phone minutes to overseas military members.
The Victory Center Military Store, the nonprofit organization benefiting area veterans, is the newest drop-off location for the Cell Phone for Soldiers campaign, which was first brought to Indian River County by Pak Mail Beachside.
Susan Lorenz, manager of Pak Mail Beachside, said she was very happy that the Victory Center was now a participant in what she called a "wonderful opportunity" to help soldiers.
"We've been doing it here for years, but this is the first time we've advertised it and of course, the first time donations can be taken to the Victory Center," Ms. Lorenz said.
"In the last month, I have packed up 200 donated phones. It's really been bustling," she said.
Cell Phones for Soldiers was started in Massachusetts in 2004 by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at ages 12 and 13. Through monetary contributions and donations of used mobile phones , the program provides troops with prepaid phone cards so they can call their friends and families back home.
Each $5 contribution or donated device valued at $5, will provide troops with 2.5 hours of free talk time, according to the program's website.
Used cell phones from all service providers are accepted.
"We have had all kinds of old phones donated. I would recommend removing any personal information before donating them," Ms. Lorenz said.
Since 2004, the program has provided men and women in uniform with 181 million minutes of free talk time.
Marty Zickert, president of The Veteran's Council of Indian River County and spokesman for the Victor Center, said the cell phone donation program was a perfect fit for their store.
"We are veterans serving veterans here and to know that for each phone donated troops can have upwards of two and half hours of talk time to loved one back home; it was easy for us to say yes," Mr. Zickert said in a press release.
Nearly 50 percent of the store's funds go to providing bus transportation for veterans to the West Palm Beach Veterans Medical Center.
The Victory Center also serves as a meeting hub for a few veterans organizations and is a general place for veterans from around the county to meet each other.
The Victory Center's hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Pak Mail Beachside is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Victory Center Military Stores is located inside the Indian River Mall at 6200 20th St., Suite 160, Vero Beach. The store phone number is (772) 226-5316.
Pak Mail Beachside is located at 505 Beachland Blvd., Suite 1, Vero Beach. The store phone number is (772) 231-0021.
For more information about Cell Phones for Soldiers, visit www.cellphonesforsoliders.com.