Supporting our soldiers this season

— I am once again kicking off the holiday season by calling on you to help our military personnel call home.

These brave men and women, who are serving overseas, sacrifice a great deal for us. We can show our support and appreciation by donating our old cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization that provides pre-paid calling cards to deployed or returning soldiers. Your donated cell phones will be sent to the company, ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each phone – enough to provide an hour of free talk time to soldiers abroad. About half of the phones ReCellular processes are reconditioned and resold to wholesale companies in more than 40 countries worldwide. Phones and components that cannot be refurbished are recycled to reclaim materials.

In the last three years, Central New Yorkers have donated more than 2,000 cell phones to my collection drive, so I hope we can keep this momentum going. You can support this great cause by delivering your gently-used cell phones to my District Office at 800 State Office Building, 333 East Washington St., Syracuse, NY 13202. I also have drop-off boxes near the information centers at Great Northern Mall in Clay and at ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt. Other collection sites include: Solvay Library, Skaneateles Library, Fairmount Library, Liverpool Library, Onondaga County Public Library at the Galleries, Onondaga Community College’s Gordon Student Center, Syracuse University’s ROTC Office, the United States Army Recruiting Station in Syracuse on Erie Boulevard and the United States Army Recruiting Station at Northern Lights Plaza.

Since its inception in 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has worked to keep military families connected by providing free communication tools to those serving overseas. The organization was founded by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist of Norwell, Mass., when they were just 12 and 13 years old. The organization has raised more than $7 million in donations. Through increased fundraising efforts, the Bergquist family hopes to support new programs. For more information about the program, please visit cellphonesforsoldiers.com. You can reach my district office at 428-7632. I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season.

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