Turn Your Old Cell Phones into Calling Card Minutes for US Soldiers Overseas

Nov 24, 2014

We can stay in touch pretty easily these days with cell phones, but when you’re overseas in the military, it’s not that simple. US Soldiers serving overseas can actually get some free minutes to call home through the Cell Phones for Soldiers program.  State Senator John DeFrancisco explains how people can generate those calling card minutes.

Used cell phones waiting to get recycled will become calling minutes for US Soldiers overseas.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

“Anyone who has an old cell phone… rather than letting it sit in the drawer gathering dust so that you throw it away three years from now… the best thing to do is to look for one of our recycling boxes that are all over Onondaga and part of Cayuga County... where you can donate those cell phones or you can bring them to the State Office Building to my office on the 8th floor.”

Lt. Colonel Paul Jackson spent Thanksgiving and Christmas last year in Afghanistan. He says the calling cards allowed his wife to share life moments with him. 

Lt. Colonel Paul Jackson, Battalion commander for US Army Recruiting Center in Syracuse speaks as Senator John DeFrancisco looks on.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

“I literally was hearing about my son growing up, ya know, from a critical age. He’s 4 now, (was) 3 back then. Ya know, hearing all of the different things and strides he was making; I felt like I was there. It wasn’t so bad.”

As you can imagine, it costs significantly more money using calling cards from Afghanistan according to Local Cell Phone for Soldiers Program Manager, David Foster.

Local Program Manager of Cell Phones for Soldiers and Helping Heroes Home, David Foster.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

 “A 100 minute card that if I was calling from here to Rochester, I’d get 100 minutes. From Afghanistan I’d get about 22.” 

 Collection bins for Cell Phones for Soldiers in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties collected 1,500 phones which turned into three thousand calling minutes from overseas.  Area colleges are also participating this year including O-C-C, LeMoyne College and Syracuse University.  For more information about where you can drop off your cell phone click here.