Thousand Teddy Bears Help Brighten Season for Kids

Thousand Teddy Bears Help Brighten Season for Kids

Bell Atlantic Employees Spread Holiday Cheer Throughout
Southeastern Massachusetts

December 17, 1998


Bonnie Coughlin, 508-884-1269

John Johnson, 617-743-3677

TAUNTON, Mass. -- About 1,000 teddy bears will board vehicles today and take
to the highways, courtesy of some local Bell Atlantic employees. The bruins will
begin their journey to children's organizations throughout southeastern
Massachusetts and greater Boston, all thanks to Bell Atlantic folks at 385 Myles
Standish Blvd.

Employees there decided to forego exchanging gifts with co-workers. Instead,
they're giving stuffed animals and other gifts to children in several different ways.

The unexpectedly large teddy-bear population resulted from an annual collection
started by employees three years ago. Initially, employees gathered bears to
distribute to Boston area children with AIDS and other catastrophic illnesses.

"This year, the response by employees was so overwhelming that we're extending
well beyond Boston," said Bell Atlantic's Rick Amaral, the group's chief teddy-
bear man since 1996. "In fact, our bear collection has been so successful that
we're distributing them in hospital pediatric units throughout southeastern

The hospitals include Morton Hospital in Taunton, City and Good Samaritan
hospitals in Brockton, St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River, Sturdy Memorial
Hospital in Attleboro, Toby Hospital in Wareham and St. Luke's Hospital in New

As enthusiasm and holiday spirit spread, Bell Atlantic Engineer Joe Sharameta
collected hundreds of teddy bears in Brockton from employees outside Taunton.

While the Boston-bound bears started their trek to the Hub today, those bound for
southeastern Massachusetts will be delivered by Santa Claus himself next week.

More Good Deeds

Taunton Bell Atlantic employees also are hosting a third-annual Christmas party
for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Taunton. Several weeks ago, employees
began removing some 500 stars from a Christmas tree at their workplace. Each
star contained the name, age and Christmas wish list of a child who will attend
next week's party. Employees replaced the stars with wrapped gifts under the tree
for each child. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces," said Ruth Palumbo,
who has managed the company's role in the party for three years.

In yet another example of holiday generosity, Pat Pungitore's customer care team
"adopted" a dormitory at St. Vincent's Home for Children in Fall River. For the
third year in a row, Bell Atlantic employees have fulfilled Christmas wishes for
about 60 pre-teen and teen residents.Last year, a young man who longed to play
the guitar had his wish fulfilled when an employee reconditioned and restrung her
own vintage guitar and gave it to him. This year the tradition continues. As a
result, one young man's Christmas wish -- steel-toed workboots, so he can get a
part time job -- will come true.

Yet another Taunton workgroup will donate money they would have spent on
gifts for one another to Our Daily Bread, a Taunton soup kitchen. In addition,
employees are continuing their support for "Citizens for Citizens" and that
group's Operation Christmas.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 42 million telephone access lines and eight million wireless
customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced
wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the
world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are
also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications
markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.