Program helps U.S. troops stay in touch with their families

Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 9:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 9:25 p.m.

A Tax Collector's Office has surpassed the 10,000 mark in a cell phone donation drive to benefit active military personnel stationed overseas and veterans.

Heading into its fifth year on Feb. 22, the effort accepts public donations of phones, pagers, BlackBerry devices and the like and sends them — with no charge for shipping — to a Michigan company affiliated with the Cell Phone for Soldiers Program.

The phones are recycled and the money generated goes toward buying prepaid calling cards for veterans and military personnel.

Roxanne Watkins, supervisor of the office's downtown branch, got the drive off the ground.

Watkins' son is a Marine sergeant who served three tours in Iraq.

She also serves as the secretary of the Military Support Group of Alachua County, which has donated more than 1,000 calling cards generated by the donation drive.

The group ships care packages to personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq and “we put a card in every box that we send,” Watkins said.

The drive continues and donations are accepted at all Tax Collector's office locations.

State of the City: For the first time since being elected Gainesville's mayor in April, Craig Lowe will give the State of the City address at noon on Tuesday.

The speech will be held at the Hippodrome State Theatre, 25 SE Second Place, and is open to the public.

As a possible preview to the speech, Lowe has said recently that he was looking for the city to move ahead in two areas in 2011: economic development and bus rapid transit.

The speech will be recorded and later broadcast on Channel 12.

Quote(s) of the week: This week's offerings both come from County Commission Chairman Lee Pinkoson during Tuesday's meeting on the criteria for the county's Community Agency Partnership Program in fiscal year 2011-12.

“Well that makes sense to me. Of course it would because I suggested it.”

— Pinkoson's musing on his proposal to not open the application period for nonprofit agencies until the county had a better idea of its financial situation for next fiscal year.

“This discussion usually gives me a headache, and I'm there.”

— Pinkoson's declaration toward the end, at least for now, of an approximately four-hour debate.

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