The “Cell Phones for Soldiers” program, now getting fresh support from credit unions, got a boost this month from the $1 billion Pen Air FCU of Pensacola, with nearly 400 phones collected from the public during the Florida credit union’s Military Appreciation Month.
“We kind of expected maybe 50 phones and we were taken aback by getting 391,” said Patty Veal, vice president of marketing.
In the past Pen Air had passively cooperated with chamber and civic groups in the campaign, Veal said, “but this year we decided to do our marketing to coincide with Military Appreciation Month and do more in the social media area, and it created a very nice response.”
Like other CUs, Pen Air links up with a Massachusetts non-profit, which has been contacting banks, CUs and businesses to donate old cell phones and then has them reconditioned and recycled for distribution overseas.
Funds from the sale of the phones to the recycling firms go toward purchasing calling cards used by servicemen overseas.
“Each donated phone is enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad, so this collection generated 23,460 minutes of calling time for the troops,” Pen Air said in an announcement.
Separately, Pen Air said it also raised $5,600 for the local USO. This was achieved by public donations, as well as a loan program in which the 103,000-member CU donated $25 for each qualified loan booked through Pen Air FCU during Military Appreciation Month.