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New Postal Policy Hinders S. Fla. Soldier Charity Donations

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iPads For Soldiers
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KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) – Troops overseas have become dependent on Apple iPads as their only form of communication with loved ones overseas.

A South Florida Organization called, “iPads for Soldiers” raises money to make life moments possible for these troops. One-hundred percent of the proceeds raised goes to buying and shipping iPads overseas.

This isn’t just helpful but for soldiers who have lost limbs but for some it’s the only way they can keep in touch with family.

“It’s a touch screen so they can swipe it with an elbow or chin,” said Winnie Pritchett, founder of iPads for Soldiers.

Sgt. Colbert in Afghanistan witnessed the birth of his child thanks to his iPad.

“It’s been a big game changer for me keeping in touch with my family back home,” Soldier Jared Hoffman said.

Now, however, that ability to keep in touch for the thousands of soldiers overseas is on hold.

“Right now the post office is not delivering batteries to Afghanistan anymore,” said Pritchett.

She is talking about lithium batteries to be exact.

Officials say when a lithium battery short-circuits or overheats, it can catch fire or explode.  The fire it causes may not be as easy to extinguish as a normal combustion fire. FAA data shows that from March 20, 1991 through August 3, 2010, batteries and battery-powered devices were involved in 113 incidents with “smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion” on passenger and cargo planes.  That led the post office to ban shipping lithium batteries to APO or military addresses on the advice of the ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization.

The USPS Spokesperson, Debra Fetterly, issued this statement to CBS4: “The postal service is in compliance with a requirement made by the ICAO and the Universal Postal Union (UPU).  While personal electronic devices still can be mailed, the requirement does not allow the mailing of lithium batteries.”

“The ones who are suffering are the soldiers,” said Pritchett.

Winnie currently has 5000 requests for iPads from soldiers and right now she only has 42 iPads ready to go.

She and some volunteers are taking them to hand deliver to Walter Reed Medical in Washington, D.C. on August 18th while they await the postal service to work out the ban.

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