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Sarasota Thursday, May. 23, 2013 4 years ago

Cell Phones for Soldiers opens new lines of communication

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

One of the most difficult aspects of military service can be keeping in touch with loved ones. Limited access to phones or calling cards can make deployment an even more difficult time for servicemen and women, as well as their families back home.

This Sunday, Gary Reinstrom, co-founder of the Jacobites Pipe Band, invites the community to help bridge the communication gap by donating gently used cell phones at the band’s seventh annual Memorial Day concert.

For the past month, Reinstrom has been collecting used cell phones for a national non-profit organization called Cell Phones for Soldiers, which recycles used cell phones to provide free calling cards to active-duty military members.

A meeting in the fall with the Arts Council and the Patterson Foundation spurred the effort. The Patterson Foundation emphasizes community partnerships, and, after the meeting, Reinstrom, along with the Jacobites and the First Brass Band, joined Church of the Redeemer and First Presbyterian of Sarasota to help collect cell phones.

Reinstrom says he felt he, as a musician, was in a good position to appeal to the community.

“Bagpipes and brass are reminiscent of our troops,” he says. “What I can do, as a musician, is generate enthusiasm.”

Since the meeting, Reinstrom has branched out to partner with even more local institutions, which have agreed to assist in his collection efforts. He currently has 15 collection boxes dispersed around Sarasota, and individuals have even started their own collection efforts. One member of Pine Shores Presbyterian Church personally collected 50 phones for the nonprofit.

As the concert approaches, Reinstrom says he hopes to continue to collect phones for members of the military and make an even larger donation near the Fourth of July.

“A lot of these men and women are over there, and they’re married, or they have kids,” says Reinstrom. “It costs them an arm and a leg just to call home. I can’t imagine what that’s like, so I thought this was a wonderful thing to get involved with.”

If you go:
Seventh annual Jacobites Memorial Day Concert — takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Church of the Palms, 3224 Bee Ridge Road. Cost is $20 for adults; $10 for children younger than 18. Call 350-0271 for more information, or to donate.

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