Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Donation helps connect deployed service members to home

July 31, 2012
In honor of the Year of the Veteran, Gov. Scott Walker announced AT&T will be donating 600 pre-paid calling cards to Wisconsin National Guard units and Reserve units in Wisconsin to help service members stay in touch with their families. 

"These AT&T calling cards will be important lifelines home for our brave men and women in uniform serving our country overseas," Walker said. "This program is a great way to connect our heroes with home, and show them how much we appreciate all they've done for us." 

AT&T donates hundreds of thousands of phone cards every year to help connect service members serving overseas with loved ones back home. Each card provides service members with 100 pre-paid minutes. To date, AT&T has donated more than $9 million of pre-paid calling cards to military personnel nationwide.
"Every day of the year, brave men and women protect and serve our country, and we want to thank them," said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. "We are proud to partner with Gov. Walker to donate these calling cards to our National Guard and Reserve troops to honor their service and help them stay connected with home." 

"Having visited our Soldiers and Airmen overseas and at mobilization stations across the nation, I know that the ability to reach back and stay connected with loved ones is a powerful morale boost," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "I am grateful for AT&T's generosity." 

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of our Wisconsin National Guard who dedicate their lives in service and sacrifice to our nation," said Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. "Being separated from their loved ones at home is especially challenging and we are so thankful to AT&T for their support of our military members and their families. We truly hope this gift will be a way for our brave men and women to stay connected to their family and friends back home." 

The governor also joined with "Cell Phones for Soldiers" Co-Founder Robbie Bergquist to encourage all Wisconsin residents to donate their old cell phones to support the charity. "Cell Phones for Soldiers" uses recycling proceeds to buy and send free phone cards to military members stationed away from home.
"Recycling our old cell phones is the really the very least we can do to support America's heroes," Walker said. "I encourage all Wisconsin residents to join me and our state employees in donating old cell phones and honoring our troops." 

Wisconsin residents can donate old cell phones in a number of ways:
  • Donate old cell phones at any AT&T store located in Wisconsin
  • Visit the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" website to locate a drop-off location near you; or
  • Print off a free shipping label by visiting the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" website and mail in your old phones.
  • Drop boxes at the Wisconsin State Capitol visitor's desk in the rotunda
In April, Governor Walker launched a "Cell Phones for Soldiers" collection drive among all Wisconsin state government agencies. State employees teamed up to collect nearly 1,500 gently-used cell phones. Due to the success of the drive, AT&T and the Department of Administration (DOA) have partnered up to continue accepting donated cell phones from state employees throughout the Year of the Veteran. AT&T collection boxes are located in the Governor's Office, the Capitol Rotunda, and the DOA lobby. 

Robbie and Brittany Bergquist co-founded "Cell Phones for Soldiers" in 2004, at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 150 million minutes of free talk time to service men and women stationed around the world. AT&T has also strongly supported "Cell Phones for Soldiers" since July 2007, donating more than $4 million, and helping to collect hundreds of thousands of old cell phones for the cause.
"Each year, we have been humbled by the amount of people like Gov. Scott Walker and organizations like AT&T that take the initiative to support our troops and veterans," Robbie said. "We would be honored to have the residents of Wisconsin collect unwanted cell phones on our behalf." 

"Cell Phones for Soldiers" also just announced a new initiative designed to support veterans. Called "Helping Heroes Home," the program provides emergency funds for veterans returning home. AT&T is supporting the program by donating more than $450,000 to address the communication needs facing today's veterans. AT&T will also donate $2 when an individual watches the Helping Heroes Home video and $1 when that person shares it with friends for an additional donation of up to $50,000. 

All old cell phones collected will support both the calling card program and the Helping Heroes Home program. 

"With partners like AT&T and Cell Phones for Soldiers, we are supporting veterans and their families," Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos said. "Above all else, we are here to serve a unique and remarkable customer base - Wisconsin's veterans and their families. It is our honor and privilege to join with the governor, AT&T and 'Cell Phones for Soldiers' to give these men and women the best service possible."

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