By Jonathan E. Coleman
A small box sitting in front of the reception desk at Liberty Tax Service includes a sign that reads “Cell Phones for Soldiers.”
The message is simple, but the meaning is much deeper.
Since 2005, the business has collected cell phones that are recycled and used to purchase phone cards to be delivered to soldiers serving overseas.
Those phone cards allow them to reconnect, if only for a short time, with family and loved ones here at home.
“This year, I’ve already sent out three boxes (of donated phones),” said Gina Lassiter, manager of Liberty Tax Service on N.C. 49 in Harrisburg. “People really understand it’s important to support our troops.”
But this time of year, as Valentine’s Day nears, the thought of a calling card just wasn’t personal enough.
Lassiter wanted to do more to let military service men and women serving overseas know how much their service means.
So, in addition to her work with Cell Phones for Soldiers, Lassiter has begun working with Valentines for Soldiers.
“We approached the elementary schools here and got their involvement,” Lassiter said. “We appreciate the schools for participating.”
Elementary school students will create special Valentines cards then Lassiter — whose father, brother and in-laws all served in some line of military service — will make sure they are delivered to the troops.
“It’s about love,” Lassiter said of the Valentines for Soldiers program. “They’re giving love being over there — sacrificing being away from their families and loved ones. They’re protecting our freedom. They deserve anything we can do.”
Lassiter said there is no way of knowing who will ultimately get the Valentines, but it’s not about delivering them to anyone specifically. The important thing, she said, is that all the troops know how much their service means.
“Thinking of their smiles when they read those cards and knowing these kids are thinking of them, that’s important,” she said.
Lassiter will collect the handmade cards at a roadside party on Saturday. The event, which she said is a way to say ‘thank you’ to the students who gave their time to make the cards, will include food, prizes and activities.
Lassiter encouraged anyone who’s interested, elementary school students or not, to drop off cards Saturday.
“Even if they don’t get them in on time, drop them off and we’ll still send them in,” she said.
• Contact reporter Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected].