Students give up phones for a day to provide phones for troops

Lake Orion is selling out -- usually not a good thing but in this case, it means giving up your cell phone for a day.

More than 1,800 Lake Orion High School students gave up their phones for a day in a fundraising effort -- for every phone given up, one dollar is donated to raise money for cell phones for soldiers.

For Kate Barker, it was a bit of an adjustment.

"It's a little nerve-racking honestly so I'm always constantly checking the time, all day I'm like wait, where's my phone? Like freaking out but then I remember it safe and away," she said.

Away just like soldiers but they're not always safe. Lake Orion High was looking for a way to help. The group Cell Phones for Soldiers raises money to buy minutes for troops so they can call home when they're deployed. Rob Bergquist, who helped start the group, flew in from their headquarters in Atlanta. 

"A lot of our phone cards now are going to operating bases where the communication needs to be more secure and so our phone cards are used with landlines and so those can be very expensive," he said.

In some places, like Japan, it's $20 to make a short call from a secured line. Lake Orion High has raised $20,000 over the course of six years participating in this campaign.

One thing all the students say is giving up their phones has made for a louder day with no distractions -- just face-to-face communication. They plan to raise $8,000 on Friday alone. 
Mitchell Young is enlisting in the military as soon as he graduates high school and says he's happy to give up his phone for a day.  

"Less than 1% of the American population serves in the military and that kind of hit home to me. If somebody won't step up then I feel like I need to," he said.

And as for the effort the school is making? 

"I really appreciate it and I hope they will continue to do this so I can benefit from this someday as well," he said.

"We are the only school in the country doing something like this, raising money for a great cause, a great charity but more importantly, the social experiment of all of our kids giving up their phones for a day to show unity with the troops. And the fact that teenagers are willing to do that and happy to do it and excited to do it it's just a really fun thing for kids," said Lori Hogan, co-leadership advisor at Lake Orion High. 

Bergquist says it has been great to see the program expand over the years.

"If you told me back 15 years ago that there would be a school in Michigan that was doing a creative initiative like this to support cell phones for soldiers I would've never believed it but it's very impressive to see," he said.

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