Accident Claims Volunteer En Route to Fundraiser

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2007 - For 23-year-old Joe Finn, it wasn't enough that his parents' Richmond, Va., Liberty Tax franchise was serving as a drop-off point for used cell phones to be recycled for cash to purchase prepaid calling cards for deployed servicemembers.

Finn spent three weeks organizing a fundraiser for Cell Phones for Soldiers, part of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, which spotlights and facilitates troop-support efforts around the country. But on his way to the March 25 event, he was killed when his truck flipped over on Interstate 95 in Virginia's Chesterfield County.

"We never met him, but I wish we could have," said Robbie Bergquist of Norwell, Mass., who founded Cell Phones for Soldiers three years ago with his sister, Brittany, when they were 12 and 13 years old, respectively. The siblings have seen their program grow exponentially ever since.

"We've been heartbroken since we heard the news. We do this because we want to help people, and he wanted to help us," Brittany said. "He was an incredible person, from everything we've read and heard about him. He loved to help people."

The teens told American Forces Press Service they're working to establish a scholarship in Finn's name at Johnson & Wales University, his alma mater.

"Ever since the accident, we've been trying to figure out a way to memorialize him and for people to know what kind of person he was," Brittany said. "The scholarship seems to the best way to do that."

Cell Phones for Soldiers is scheduled to be profiled on tomorrow's CBS Evening News.

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