Verizon Employees Contribute 800 Books to Local Families in Washington State

EVERETT, Wash. - A book is a friend for life, it's said. By this accounting, Verizon employees have made quite a few new friends in Marysville and Mt. Vernon, thanks to the annual Verizon Season's Readings book drive held in December.

Each year during the drive, local schools and literacy programs are selected to receive children's books that have been donated. The 2003 campaign was coordinated by the Women's Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE) and the Verizon Telephone Pioneers employee groups, which selected the Reach Out and Read program of the Sea Mar Clinics as the beneficiary. This month, more than 800 books have been distributed to new mothers, their children and families at the Sea Mar Clinics in Marysville and Mt. Vernon.

Reach Out and Read - a national organization - encourages reading aloud as one of the most important things parents can do to help their children learn. Reach Out and Read builds on the special relationship between doctors and the parents of young children to support children's language and literacy development.

At well-child visits to doctor's offices by children aged 6 months to 5 years, doctors and nurses provide information about the importance of reading aloud and give new, developmentally appropriate books to the children and their parents to take home. In the waiting room, volunteers read to children, modeling techniques for parents.

Since 1989, Reach Out and Read has provided the link between literacy and a healthy childhood to millions of children, with a special emphasis on children growing up in poverty. Reach Out and Read reinforces the parent's role as the first and most important teacher, and gives parents the tools and techniques to help their children succeed.

The Sea Mar Clinics, established in 1978, provide comprehensive health care and support services to low-income Latino and other underinsured individuals and families. More than 50,000 people use Sea Mar Clinics for their primary health care in Western Washington.

Verizon's commitment to literacy includes more than $18 million donated annually to literacy organizations through both Verizon Foundation and Check Into Literacy, a program under which Verizon residential telephone customers can contribute $1 each month when paying their phone bills. Verizon Reads, a public charity, distributes the contributions to local literacy organizations. To learn more about Verizon's support of literacy and how to participate, visit www.verizonreads.net.

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.