By: Lauren Williams Staff Writer
September 26, 2013
Following the example set by the nation’s military, the Key Club at Lakewood High School is answering a call to serve, both locally in their own community and even beyond. For the month of October, the club is focusing their community service efforts on those setting the ultimate example in service with a project called “Telephones for Troops.”
For the next month, the club will collect used cell phones from students, faculty, and the community in an effort to help servicemen and women, particularly those serving abroad, maintain a connection with their loved ones back home.
The club, which is currently about 25 members strong, aims to do at least one service project a month, an ambitious goal that requires members to continually brainstorm ideas for ways they can make an impact in their community, and in this case, even across the world.
“We knew that troops going overseas don’t get to talk to their families enough and we thought this would be a way to help them do that more when they’re overseas,” said Emily Lewis, one of the club’s co-vice presidents.
Club president Coleman Simpson added that the club also has a personal connection to the project, namely through his own brother.
“My brother is in the military and will be deployed for the first time in December to Afghanistan,” shared Simpson. “He was the key club president when he was here (at Lakewood) so we kind of got the idea from that…It can be a scary time when they’re over there.”
To the club members’ delight, they have already collected close to 35 cell phones for the project.
“That’s really good since it doesn’t really start until October,” noted Simpson, obviously pleased.
“We’re hoping to get at least 100 cell phones because that’s about 200 hours of talking time,” said Simpson when asked about the club’s goal for the project, explaining that one donated cell phone equals approximately two to two-and-half talking hours for a soldier.
In order to reach their goal, club members are not only getting their fellow Leopards involved but also the entire community in the Lakewood district.
“They’re the high school branch of the Kiwanas Club so we want to keep that focus of community service going,” stressed one of the club’s advisers, history teacher Tonya Williams. “We want it to be a large, community-involved project.”
Club member Brianna Gibson pointed out that she has already spread the word about the project to her church, and club adviser and history teacher Michelle Smoak noted that the club has also asked the school’s SROs (school resource officers) to make other officers at the county’s sheriff’s office aware of the project as well.
The club encourages any persons interested in donating their old cell phones, which can be of any type, to the project to drop them off at the school.
“If someone has a large donation, we’ll be glad to pick it up,” added Williams.
Once all of the cell phones are collected at the end of October, the club will package and send them to the Cell Phones for Soldiers organization for distribution.
“Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active duty military members and veterans,” describes the organization’s website, reporting that since it started in 2004 has provided servicemen and women with 181 million minutes of free talk time, has mailed out around 12,000 calling cards each week, and has reduced the number of old cell phones being dumped in landfills by recycling over 10.8 million of them.
“When you think about the military and all that they sacrifice so that we can enjoy our individual freedoms, it seemed like a great way to do something for them,” said Williams of the students’ service idea, “something that helps get them that connection back to their families.”
Although still early in the school year, the club has already worked with the Red Cross for one of their many service projects and has many more service projects planned to help their community.
“We want this to be a club that’s thoroughly invested in the community and very active,” Williams said.
For more information about donating cell phones to the project, please contact Michelle Smoak or Tonya Williams at the school at 910-525-5171. They can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Also, visit http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com for more information.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.