Chamber drive for service members

Think twice before dropping that old cell phone in the trash this holiday season.

That phone help could link a service member to their family.

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce and AT&T are teaming up for a phone drive that will go toward providing overseas military personnel with free calling cards they can use to phone home.

Those with old phones to spare can drop off devices in specially marked bins at the Chamber’s cafeteria at the Hutchinson Metro Center at 1200 Waters Pl.

The phones will go to Cell Phones for Soldiers, a group that sells the recycled parts to third parties and then uses the proceeds to buy military pre-paid phone cards.

Before dropping that phone in the bin, donors are encouraged to remove any SIM card, erase data and restore the device to its factory settings.

Chamber chips in

The first shipment of phones was set to go out Friday, Dec. 13, but the Chamber will keep the bins open throughout the holiday season.

“We are honored to be able to give back to the brave men and women who give so much for us by helping them connect with their families,” said Lenny Caro, the Chamber’s president.

AT&T and Cell Phones for Soldiers have already raised more than $3 million in phone cards over the years. The registered charity claims on its website to have doled out over 181 million minutes of free talk time since its inception in 2004.

Corporate donors

AT&T also supported the troops by donating over $450,000 to the Cell Phones for Soldiers’ “Helping Heroes Home” program, which provides funds to vets struggling to adapt to civilian life.

The corporation says that it is wired to help the troops call home.

“We understand the importance of keeping troops and their families connected, especially during the holiday season,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T’s New York State president.

City wide drive

New York’s other four boroughs are also holding similar phone drives.

The goal: net as many cells as possible, and connect as many soldiers with their families this winter.

“Working with Cell Phones for Soldiers to provide troops away from home pre-paid phone cards is one way we can thank them for their service,” Shorenstein said. “I’m so glad AT&T is able to partner with the Bronx Chamber of Commerce to bring this program to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and I encourage everyone to donate their old cell phones to this important cause.”

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