The $99 million Riegelwood FCU in Riegelwood, N.C., is leading the way in organizing a cell phone collection drive in support of the military.
The effort, coordinated with local businesses, has already brought in 50 donated phones “and our hope is to collect 500 by year-end,” said Elaine Williams, the 9,000-member credit union’s marketing director.
Riegelwood’s drive is linked to a national push under way since 2004 by Cell Phones for Soldiers, a Norwell, Mass. non-profit which reconditions and recycles the phones for shipment to overseas bases.
“We’re glad to see credit unions participate since we do have some large banks that support us, including Wells Fargo and Capital One,” said a spokeswoman for Cell Phones for Soldiers.
Riegelwood said so far it has signed up two grocery chains, a gift shop and several other firms in the community to serve as collection sites with CU staffers picking up the equipment.
Riegelwood said in a statement that it is “calling on all Americans to support these brave men and women by donating your unused cell phones. So often we want to help the men and women that are in the service, but we just don’t know how.”
Cell phone donation “is a very simple but meaningful way to make a difference in the lives of our military families,” the credit unions said.
Williams said the campaign publicized in the Wilmington media has also caught on with area schools, with students now helping in the collection drive.
Nationally, Cell Phones for Soldiers said it has now recycled 8.3 million phones and provided 113 million free minutes to overseas troops. It said 30 credit unions across the country have participated in the drive since 2006.