Sunglasses, sunscreen, beach towel and swimsuit are the obvious beach essentials, but this summer, so are old cell phones.

More than a dozen local sixth-grade girls are trying to give back to soldiers and Marines serving overseas by providing them with phone cards and are asking for residents to help by donating their old cell phones at the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard headquarters, located at A Street on the south side of the Balboa Pier.

"We thought it would be a really good way to give back," said Newport Heights Elementary School student Becca Standt, 11. "I think a lot of people don't realize how hard it is for some families and we wanted to help them."

The girls are collecting donations for Cell Phones for Soldiers, a nonprofit that sells cell phones to buy prepaid phone cards for troops stationed abroad. Each cell phone collected buys one hour of phone time.

They have collected 50 cell phones since March from families from Newport Heights and Newport elementary schools. Parents are also signing their children up for Junior Lifeguards, said Gail Standt, Becca's mother.

The girls chose to have all their phone cards go to the Marines at Camp Pendleton, she said.

Becca, along with Newport Elementary sixth-grader Marley Mais, were looking for a way to give back when Standt showed them a video online about Cell Phones for Soldiers that showed a family's struggle to stay in contact.

"We saw this video and it really touched us," she said.

The group's goal is to collect 80 to 100 cell phones. It's a goal they hope to reach this summer.

Starting Thursday, they will place a collection box at the Junior Lifeguard headquarters that will stay out all summer, Standt said.

They don't plan on stopping until they reach the finish line, Becca said.

"We'll go until we get our goal," she said.

How To Help

Donate your old cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Phones can be dropped off starting Thursday through the summer at the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards headquarters on A Street on the south side of the Balboa Pier.