3:43pm

Mon November 25, 2013
Regional Coverage

Cellphones for vets program starts 6th season

For the sixth year in a row, State Sen. John DeFransisco is asking central New Yorkers to go through their junk drawers to help someone in the military.

“You got some old cellphones," DeFransisco said Monday, "don’t let them gather dust.”

Instead DeFransisco is asking people to turn them in to locations across central New York bearing the "Cellphones for Soldiers" logo.

The soldiers don’t actually get the phones. What happens is the parts are recycled and for each phone, those parts are worth at least two 60 minute international calling cards. For someone like Staff Sgt. Alex Joy, who’s twice been deployed to Iraq, they are priceless.

"The amenities that we have over there aren’t the greatest, and a 15 minute phone call is a direct morale booster to anybody over there," he said. "Regardless of the time of year, but especially now during the holiday season."

Last year DeFransisco says the program collected more than 1,500 cellphones, which in turn provided soldiers with about 2,000 hours of free talk time.

There are more than 20 collection sites for the phones in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties, including several libraries and malls.