Cellphones for Soldiers


War Hero
In this week's Innovation,
we recognize Cell Phones for Soldiers

Of all the things made possible by the internet, long distance communication is one of the most prevalent. Phone companies compete with one another to make long-distance calling more accessible and inexpensive while companies such as Skype, AT&T, Vontage and countless others have created data services, telephone apps, and many other additional features to keep friends and family connected over thousands of miles of separation. In light of all these wonderful advancements, we often forget that easy, fast and cheap communication has not always been the case.

In April 2004, 13-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her 12-year-old brother Robbie learned that United States Army Reserve Sergeant Bryan Fletcher was struggling to pay his cell phone bill of over $7,000. Fletcher, who was stationed in Iraq at the time, was calling his family in Massachusetts, unaware of the cost of roaming charges.

The Bergquist kids gathered $14 of their own money and asked the school principal if they could collect snack money from their classmates. Now with a total $21, they opened a bank account and brainstormed other ways to help Fletcher stay in touch with his family. After the Bergquist’s bank realized what the kids were doing, it donated another $500 to the cause. Shortly after opening the account and hosting several fundraisers, the newspapers caught wind of the story and, because of the efforts of Brittany and Robbie, the cell phone company waived Sergeant Fletcher’s bill.

Robbie and Brittany were delighted to help one soldier, however they soon realized, "if one soldier had a problem, then there must be more."

Innovation of the Week

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