Verizon Enlists "Moose" for PhoneMart Book Collection

IRVING, Texas - Former football star Daryl "Moose" Johnston, whose rugged blocking helped the Dallas Cowboys win three Super Bowls in the 1990s, now is tackling a major issue in Dallas and the nation - illiteracy. This Saturday, Sept. 30, Johnston will appear at the Verizon PhoneMart in Irving to sign posters for customers who donate books to Dallas Reads, a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to increasing literacy in North Texas.

Johnston, now a color commentator for CBS-TV, was one of the first participants in Verizon's "Literacy Champions" program that works with celebrities in local communities across the nation to bring attention to the need to improve literacy skills, along with raising funds for local literacy initiatives. Motorola, 7-Eleven, Ask Jeeves, The Dallas Morning News, Fidelity Investments, The Associates and Baylor Healthcare are local co-contributors to the program.

"I have always believed that the foundation for a successful and productive life is education," said Johnston, "and literacy is the foundation of a good education. Books are a fundamental building block for literacy, and I'm proud to be Verizon's Literacy Champion and help collect well-needed books for Dallas-based literacy groups."

"Interaction with celebrities like Daryl Johnston is one of the exciting ways we're getting our customers engaged first-hand in our literacy initiatives," said Jody Bilney, president, Verizon consumer markets. "Verizon is committed to being America's literacy champion, and our customers support that goal and want to be involved. Another way customers can participate is by donating $1 per month to literacy by checking the 'Check Into Literacy' box on their Verizon phone bills."

Johnston will visit the Verizon PhoneMart at 3307 West Airport Freeway in Irving on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will sign posters for customers who donate a new or gently used book.

All Dallas-area PhoneMarts will participate in the book donation drive throughout October and will give unsigned Johnston posters to customers who contribute books. Customers who purchase a Motorola pager or Motorola StarTAC wireless phone will have a childrens book with a bookplate donated in their name to a Dallas Reads affiliated literacy organization in their community.

Verizon is committed to being America's Literacy Champion through a national campaign aimed at raising community awareness, increasing funding and supporting a diverse range of adult, child and family literacy programs. Working under the banner of Verizon Reads, a public charity, the Ron Brown presidential award-winning philanthropy program is designed to reach out to the nearly 40 million Americans who have serious problems with literacy skills across all sectors of the United States.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com .