Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

It's a Cell Phone Stockpile! Labor Day cell phone collection extravaganza at the Mermaid Lounge

August 27, 2014
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

After kicking off a campaign eight weeks ago to collect old, outdated cell phones for the national Cell Phones for Soldiers charity, The Mermaid Lounge and Valerie's Lounge bartender Maria Mapstone is proud to state that they have received more than 300 phones for the cause! As a final opportunity to make a donation, and to celebrate such a great success, a Labor Day gathering will take place at The Mermaid Monday, Sept. 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"This cell phone collection has been awesome we've had a real outpouring of donated phones and this just shows that we have the best community ever and I'm so glad to be a part of it," Maria said. "On Labor Day, we're going to have some great drink specials to celebrate the end of this collection, and it gives you a chance to get any last-minute phones you happen to come across that you no longer need. We'll also have a 50/50 raffle for the local Operation Open Arms charity that day, and at 5 p.m., pull the winning ticket. Just come by, keep cool and help a great local cause."

When she first stumbled upon her old cell phones in a drawer while spring cleaning, Maria said, "I knew that I couldn't do anything with them cell phones become so outdated so quickly now and we all have them lying around, not sure what to do with them. I thought it would be great to donate them to the Cell Phones for Soldiers organization, and when I ran it by Scott and Kathy (Van Selow, owners of The Mermaid), they thought it would be a great idea to host a drive all month long, collecting phones for the cause. The foundation is a nonprofit group dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans. It's a great way to turn something unwanted into something so great for our troops."

Article Photos

After a fantastic several-week collection of used, outdated and unneeded cell phones, Valerie’s Lounge and the Mermaid Lounge, led by bartender extraordinaire Maria Mapstone, managed to collect more than 300 phones for the Cell Phones for Soldiers charity. Stop by the Mermaid Labor Day, anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., for a final collection, as well as tasty drink specials and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the local Operation Open Arms charity. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

The bartender extraordinaire mentioned Kelly Mullen, of the Lani Kai, who donated about 30 old phones from the resort's lost and found bin (only ones that have been in the box for one to two years or more, that have clearly been outdated and out of service/commission for some time).

"This just shows that there are lots of phones that have been sitting in lost and found bins for years, clearly out of service and replaced, that can be donated to the charity," Maria said. "I encourage our other local businesses to check for outdated and out-of-commission cell phones collecting dust with no other purpose, and turn them in to this great cause."

Once the final hoorah is all said and done Monday, Maria will be paying out of her own pocket to ship the surprisingly very heavy box of old cell phones up to the charity's main office about a week later.

Article Map

"I'm going to be shipping the box about a week after the Labor Day event, just in case we have any stragglers that didn't make it Monday," she said.

As for hosting the very special 50/50 raffle for Operation Open Arms that day, "it's a great foundation that sets up special excursion packages for soldiers on leave and their families It's just another way of giving back to those who fight and who have fought for us and for our freedom."

After such a successful cell phone drive, Maria is eager to plan and prep for other benefits and fundraisers coming up in the future.

"Almost everyone's got the day off Labor Day. We'll have the jukebox going it'll be a fun time. Come on in, enjoy some drink specials, turn in an old cell phone and enjoy the day!"

Why your cell phone donation matters

Did you know that American servicemen and women deployed overseas don't have an affordable way to call loved ones back home? Many veterans need assistance, but often don't know where to seek help. Cell Phones for Soldiers aims to help alleviate those issues.

The donation of a gently-used mobile phone may seem small, but it actually makes a big difference. The group's mission is to provide cost-free communication tools to active-duty military members and assist veterans as they transition into post-combat life. With the help of the community, Cell Phones for Soldiers can complete that mission. The money received from the recycling of cell phones is used to purchase international calling cards for active-duty military deployed overseas to connect with their friends and family back home.

Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided more than 204 million minutes of free talk time; mails approximately 7,500 calling cards each week; and recycled more than 11 million cell phones, reducing the impact on landfills, all while helping U.S. troops and veterans. Visit

About Operation Open Arms

The 501-c3 Operation Open Arms charity, founded by Capt. John "GiddyUp" Bunch, is a nationally acclaimed military outreach program that not only sets up on-leave soldiers and their families with fabulous week-long destination vacations (thanks to sponsors and local resorts, lodges, fishing charters, restaurants and more), but since 2013, the local organization dedicates itself to the care and treatment of PTSD, as well.

Since 2005, our local, beautiful paradise of Southwest Florida has become one of the nation's most popular leave destinations for U.S. troops and for good reason. Those serving in combat or foreign duty stations can visit Southwest Florida and enjoy R&R benefits free of charge thanks to the Operation Open Arms' network of local sponsors of the charity. To date, the organization has provided charitable resources for more than 1,900 U.S. troops and their families since its founding.

The group's mission statement is simple:?"To provide U.S. service men and women visiting Southwest Florida every conceivable benefit during their two-week combat leave or return from a foreign duty station."

For further information on Operation Open Arms, or to help with its mission, visit, email or find the organization on Facebook.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web