Phone cards costly for soldiers, families - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phone cards costly for soldiers, families

August 16, 2005

Moultrie- As members of the 48th Brigade trained for the war in Iraq, they prepared for time away from the ones they love to protect the country they love.

It's important, though, that the citizen soldiers keep in touch.

"It just puts them a little closer to home opposed to being several thousand miles away," said Captain Hamilton Garner, a member of the National Guard and an assistant district attorney in Moultrie.

Garner's Sunday school class at the First United Methodist Church in Moultrie recently started collecting things those service men and women will need.

"It just kind of snowballed and got bigger than we really expected," he said.

The volunteer auxiliary from Colquitt Regional Medical Center donated $1000 worth of phone cards and Clement's Printing Company donated stationary for soldiers to use for letters home. Those items will be included in care packages this week, along with toiletries.

Phone cards can be picked up in stores like Winn-Dixie, Target and Sam's Club and are an easy way to help soldiers talk to their families.

A 600 minute card cost about $30 at some stores. Service men and women go through them quickly because international calls use more minutes and the rates change regularly.

 On Tuesday, a 600 minute AT&T card would have provided about 42 minutes of talk time to a land line in Iraq. A call to a cell phone in Iraq would have used even more minutes.

"There's nothing like being able to speak, actually hear a voice opposed to getting a card or a letter that's several weeks old," Garner said.

He's talked to friends serving in the Middle East, so he knows phone cards will help. Eventually, he hopes he's the one calling home.

"Those are my soldiers and that's my job."

Right now, Garner's job is to keep working to help soldiers get what they need.

WALB will help and will accept donations of phone cards at the station at 1709 Stuart Avenue during regular business hours. Those cards will be donated to the members of the 48th Brigade. Cards can also be donated at the First United Methodist Church in Moultrie.

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