Article Date: 6/1/2012

Reflections
reflections

THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Answering a Call

I got involved with a program that donates free phone minutes to U.S. soldiers.

Robert E. Reid, O.D., Marion, OHIO

A few years ago, I noticed a pamphlet in an office supply store for Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. In thinking about how lucky I am to live in a free country and how U.S. soldiers — many of them practically kids — put their lives on the line to protect that freedom, I decided to support the program.

The 411

Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc., founded in 2004, is a non-profit organization that provides deployed and returning soldiers pre-paid international calling cards. The program accomplishes this with funds raised through monetary contributions, which can be donated via the Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. website (www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com), and used cell phone recycling. Used cell phones are mailed to ReCellular, Inc., a Michigan-based portable electronics recycling company, and ReCellular, Inc. then mails the Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. money for the phones.

Cell Phones for Soldiers’ co-founder Robbie Berquist shows the fruit of the program’s labor.

I started donating money on the program’s website, and shortly thereafter I made my practice a gently used cell phone collection site. When we amass between 15-to-20 phones, we pack and ship them to ReCellular, Inc. (Used cell phone collectors can pay for the postage, or print pre-paid postage via the Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. website.) Thus far, we’ve mailed hundreds of phones to ReCellular, Inc.

To promote the program, I’ve distributed flyers throughout Marion and mentioned it in practice newsletters and in e-mails to patients, friends and family. I plan on having my practice remain a gently used cell phone collection site for the program as long as our troops need international calling cards .

Each $5 contribution or donated gently used cell phone valued at $5 provides our soldiers with 2.5 hours of free talk time, Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. says. On average, the program distributes 12,000 calling cards each week to bases throughout the world, care package programs, at deployment ceremonies and VA hospitals. Thus far, Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. has raised more than $7 million and has provided troops overseas with more than 150 million free minutes, according the program’s website.

A side effect

I got involved with Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. because I thought and think it’s a great program. The side effect has been a newfound enthusiasm for my practice by the Marion community.

We’ve been in Marion for roughly 20 years, though we moved a couple years ago to a different location in Marion. The Cell Phones for Soldiers program has helped make people aware of our relatively new location, even attracting new patients. These folks present with their cell phones, comment they think the program is a great idea and then end up making an appointment for an eye exam.

Let’s face it. Everybody has a gently used cell phone or two lying around. Why not donate them to help our troops to stay in touch with family? OM

Visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com for more information on this program.

DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JENNIFER.KIRBY@SPRINGER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: June 2012, page(s): 88