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      Your dinged up and donated phone can help keep soldiers connected

      Old and damaged cell phones can be recycled for a good cause. Contact the WIU ROTC Office for details.

      A Western Illinois University ROTC officer is helping soldiers stay connected with their families overseas.

      "Just pick them up, put them in a bag, drop them off, and get that feeling that you helped a soldier communicate with their family," ROTC Office Manager Lori Menke said.

      Menke has dedicated her life to supporting the soldiers who keep us safe.

      Through years of military service with the ROTC department, she has always been looking for more ways to give back.

      That's why when Menke found out collecting unused cell phones could benefit soldiers overseas, she had to get involved.

      "That's kind of cool. Considering where I work and I came back to work and I hopped on the internet found the site that said you could be a location for a drop off," Menke said.

      By placing a drop off box at the ROTC Office on the Western Illinois University campus, Menke has been able to collect a lot of used phones from college students.

      From water damaged, to snapped in half or cracked, Menke says regardless of a phone's condition she can still accept it.

      "I send what I have to a company called ReCellular, ReCellular then takes all those things apart and gets out recyclable ingredients. The batteries, the ingredients in the smart board of the phone, the copper wiring, and the accessories," Menke explained.

      ReCellular donates the profits from Menkes recycled phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization that gives one hour of talk time to soldiers for every phone they receive.

      "It's a good way for someone to give back to service members who are serving the country and protecting our freedoms," retired officer Rich Homan said.

      Homan says it's important to donate phones because it helps soldiers reach family members during an emergency.

      "A family hears about some incident that happens overseas, their family members that are deployed can contact them right away and say well I'm still ok," Homan said.

      If you have an old or used cell phone you can drop it off to help a solider overseas call home. Call the WIU ROTC Office at 309-298-1161 for more information.