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Helping soldiers phone home

Posted: October 7, 2008 8:33 p.m.
Updated: December 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Army recruiters from the Santa Clarita recruiting station visited Hart High School to show support for the Hart Cheer squad's cell phone drive for the nonprofit organization Cell Phones For Soldiers. The organization takes old cell phones and uses the money to purchase calling cards for troops overseas.

We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit, how ‘bout you?

The fans who sit beneath the Friday night lights as the Hart High School cheerleaders shout and cheer for the varsity football team cannot deny the school spirit the cheerleaders emulate.

Last year the varsity cheer squad had a remarkable undefeated season, winning titles including CIF State Champions and USA Spirit National Champions. In addition to games and competitions, the girls also participate in various community service events and by collecting cell phones for Cell Phones for Soldiers, not only do the girls have school spirit, but they demonstrate a national spirit.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that trades in cell phones to an organization called ReCellular for money to purchase calling cards for United States soldiers stationed over seas. Cell Phones for Soldiers takes any used working or broken cell phones. Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has distributed over 400,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers.

This is the second year that Hart Cheer has been involved in the collection of phones. Last year the team collected 140 phones and this year they are hoping to increase their numbers.

The girls are already off to a great start - with 58 cell phones already collected, they remain hopeful in reaching their goal of 200.

"This year we have publicized it more, (and) we also started the drive earlier. We are being more aggressive and we are attempting to put it into more publications," said Hart Cheer parent Emily Chiominto.

The biggest supporters of the collection are the girls and the Hart parents. Several of the cheerleaders have friends or family members in the service and are glad to be of assistance.

"There are some soldiers who are fighting with the military who are unable to communicate with their families, and it is really nice that we are able to help them in some small way," said senior Ali Lawrence.

In addition to receiving support from cheer and football families, the army recruitment station in Santa Clarita and the Hart administration have also been supportive of the cause. On Sept. 6, several recruiting officers from the army came to Hart High to help promote the collection of cell phones.

Likewise, the Hart administration has been helpful by allowing numerous bulletins to be posted.

"The Hart administration has been very supportive, and also the district. They even let us put (a notice) in the district newsletter," Chiominto said.

"The soldiers deserve to be helped and they don't deserve to be paying high phone bills if they are fighting for our country," Chiominto said.

Noelle Chadbourne is a senior, a varsity cheerleader and a journalism student at Hart High School.


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