Verizon Employees Make Kids Center of the Holiday Season as Company's Annual Book Drive Begins

NEW YORK - Verizon employees today began collecting new and gently-used books as the company launched its annual month-long national book drive, Season's Readings, which has put more than 1.8 million books in the hands of children and adults over the past five years.

The theme of this year's drive is, Make Kids the Center of Your Season, and the books that employees donate and collect will be presented to nonprofit and literacy organizations in the employees' communities.

Advancing literacy is a priority for Verizon and the Verizon Foundation. It's also a commitment shared by many company employees, who are making pledges to read to their children as well as to those in the community. The readings take place at a variety of locations, including libraries, schools and shelters.

Throughout the year, Verizon employees contribute to the community, often putting into practice locally Verizon's national initiatives. Verizon employees donated more than 528,000 hours of community service in 2004 through the Verizon Volunteers program alone.

"Studies have shown that having reading materials readily available are essential to developing literacy skills. Season's Readings continues to give the gift of literacy, particularly to children, year after year because of our employees' commitment to building stronger, more literate communities," said Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation.

Once again, this year's Season's Readings campaign is conducted in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy. The center helps identify worthy organizations, offers a list of recommended books, and provides reading tips and volunteer opportunities, all of which are available at www.famlit.org/seasons-readings.cfm.

The foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, last year awarded grants totaling over $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving literacy, computer and technology skills, and identifying domestic violence solutions. The foundation uses its technology network and the power of its people in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships that assist organizations serving the needs of diverse communities - victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, and the economically and socially disadvantaged.

The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer 528,000 hours in their communities and provided $37.6 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million customers nationwide, and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers in 28 states. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 215,000 and generates annual revenues of more than $71 billion from four business segments: Domestic Telecom, Domestic Wireless, Information Services and International. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.