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Program gathers 'Cell Phones for Soldiers'
by Steve Beavers
Nov 26, 2012 | 79 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff photo by Steve Beavers

Chessica Harville and Randal Mullins go through some of the mobile phones collected for Cell Phones for Soldiers.
Staff photo by Steve Beavers Chessica Harville and Randal Mullins go through some of the mobile phones collected for Cell Phones for Soldiers.
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A yellow ribbon prompted Chessica Harville to get involved.

The wife of an United States Air Force recruiter, Harville set out to find a way to help the military after seeing the numerous ribbons put up after the death of SSG William "Seth" Ricketts in 2010.

Harville's desire got her involved with Cell Phones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active duty military members and veterans. In two years, Harville has helped the Corinth branch of the organization collect close to 5,000 cell phones.

"I don't think people realize what a call means to a soldier who is away from home," she said. "Just being able to hear that familiar voice brings joy to them."

American Legion Post 6 and Stone Jewelers in Ripley have been key partners in drives to collect phones.

"I know how important it is to be able to call family while away from home during the holiday season," said Randal Mullins, Post 6 American Legion Rider Assistant Director.

Mullins, who has totaled almost 31 years of consecutive military duty, has dropped off around 400 phones to Stone Jewelers over the two years.

"They jumped in with both feet and have been a tremendous help," said Mullins of the jewelry store.

Mobile phones can be dropped at the Air Force Recruiting Office at 1723 Virginia Avenue, Suite 200 or at Stone's in Ripley.

"Every phone over a $5 value will provide soldiers with 2.5 hours of free talk time," said Harville whose husband, SSG Josh Harville, is a recruiter at the local office.

All kinds of mobile telephones are accepted.

"Phones are broken down and parts are recycled," said Harville. "We have received broken phones and several of the old bag telephones."

Since 2004, the organization -- founded by the brother and sister team of 12 year-old Robbie and 13 year-old Brittany Bergquist of Norwell, Mass. -- has recycled more than 10.5 million cell phones and provided more than 168 million minutes of free talk time.

In July, the Bergquist family launched a new program, Helping Heroes Home, which will provide emergency funds for returning veterans to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships.
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