Local Company Collecting Old Cellphones for American Troops

Members of the U.S. armed forces put their lives on the line every day. Though some may not all make it home for the holidays, one San Francisco company is making sure they'll at least be able to talk to their loved ones during the holidays.

San Francisco-based Lookout is partnering with Cell Phones for Soldiers to collect old unwanted cellphones, recycle them, and buy calling cards for our troops.

A recent survey by Lookout, a mobile security company, found that 62 percent of Americans have at least one old mobile phone sitting around unused, and some people say they have more than four. "that's enough phones to stretch from San Francisco to the North Pole and back."

"People are on their second or third iPhone," says Michelle Masek, a Lookout spokeswoman. "33 million smart phones are shipping this year."

Lookout's Mobile Rescue Program is collecting these used mobile phones from local tech companies this week including Twitter, GitHub, Airbnb, FourSquare, and Square. They'll give the phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers, which will recycle them and use the money to buy calling cards to help troops connect with their families. They've already collected hundreds but are still looking for more.

Cell Phones for Soldiers, created in 2004 by Robbie and Brittany Berquist, then 12 and 13 years old, has donated 168 million minutes of talk time and recycled more than 10 million cellphones.

"It's serendipitous," says Brittany. "We didn't realize how much momentum it would gain."

Anyone with an old cellphone is asked to join the cause and donate either money or their old phone. Visit the Cell Phones for Soldiers website for the nearest drop-off location or to start your own.

Cell Phones for Soldiers will wipe the data from your phone before recycling it.

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