By Chris Fish
ROCKLEDGE - As a part of the Cell Phones For Soldiers program, the Rockledge Police Department is accepting donations of old or unused cell phones to help provide free calling cards of soldiers overseas.
Donated cell phones are sold to ReCellular, where the money received for the recycled phones is used to purchase calling cards and communication tools for troops.
"It's a worthy cause," said Nick Galluzzi, background investigator for the Rockledge Police Department. "I started collecting cell phones (for the program) two years ago. Soldiers have received 400,000 minutes since I started."
Started in 2004 by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist of Norwell, Mass., at the ages of 12 and 13, Cell Phones for Soldiers has since provided more than 2 million prepaid calling cards to troops and more than 150 million minutes of free talk time.
The organization has also recycled more than 10 million cell phones, reducing the impact on landfills.
Officer Galluzzi said he has collected 6,628 cell phones for the program to date, far exceeding his expectations when he first became involved with the national, nonprofit program.
"When I first started, my goal was to collect 1,000 phones," he said. "Now, my goal is to collect 10,000."
For every phone collected, soldiers can receive a one-hour calling card.
The Rockledge Police Department is accepting the donation of cell phones at the station and Rockledge City Hall. Other areas that are accepting donations can be found via www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.
For the sites in the Rockledge area, Officer Galluzzi said he created the drop-off boxes himself. Each box is decorated with military and patriotic colors.
Officer Galluzzi said he would continue to collect the phones, as long as people are donating.
Cell phones can be dropped off in any condition, but they must have the battery and any other accessory removed.
For more information about how to donate in the Rockledge area, contact Officer Galluzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, for more information, visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.