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ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. troops deployed overseas will have to spend a little less out of their pockets to call home for the holidays, thanks to a donation from AT&T of 35,000 prepaid phone cards worth $455,000.

The cards have been given to the United Service Organizations, where workers are packing them into gift bags for deployed troops, AT&T spokesman Brian Wesolowski said.

AT&T is working with the USO to distribute the cards to servicemembers through “Operation USO Care Package,” a program that distributes to troops care packages that include popular sundries and treats including sunscreen, and travel-size toiletries, as well as messages from Americans who want to thank them for their service.

The donation brings AT&T’s 2003 prepaid phone card donations to troops via the USO to 195,000 cards worth nearly $3.5 million, Wesolowski said. Each card has 100 “units,” which vary in value depending on where the call is going. For example, from Iraq to the United States, the card will give a servicemember 20 minutes of talk time; from Iraq to Germany, 14 minutes, Wesolowski said.

From Germany to the United States, talk time is 50 minutes per card. From Kuwait to the United States, talk time is 33 minutes per card, and Afghanistan to the United States, 20 minutes.

In addition to donating phone cards, AT&T has built 30 call centers for troops in the Middle East, including 13 in Iraq, and donated 600 mobile satellite phones that travel with the field troops in Iraq. By the end of the year, AT&T hopes to add two additional call centers in Iraq.

For more information, go to www.usocares.org/home.htm.

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