NEW YORK - Verizon today expanded its efforts to aid Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina, raising a total of over $5 million thus far, as well as providing mobile pay- phone trailers, cell phones, phone banks and free prepaid calling cards.
The cash donations have been raised by the Verizon Foundation and Verizon employees as part of a special disaster relief campaign.
The Verizon Foundation is providing a 2-to-1 match for every dollar donated by employees to the American Red Cross to aid relief efforts in areas that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"This is an unprecedented response rate by our employees as part of our disaster relief program, and it shows that the hearts of our employees go out to all of those who were impacted by this terrible disaster," said Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation. "Our employees have been incredible at finding ways for the company to use its resources and technology in support of relief efforts."
Verizon is also making it possible for its customers and others to donate to the Red Cross through clicking on the link to Red Cross on the Verizon.com Web site.
Also, Verizon Wireless customers can donate to relief efforts via text-messaging from their wireless devices. To participate, customers can send a message to the address 2HELP or 24357 using the key word "help." They will receive a reply message asking them to confirm a $5 donation to the Red Cross.
In addition to contributing funds to or helping the Red Cross raise urgently needed funds, Verizon and Verizon Wireless are also providing other forms of assistance:
- Verizon is making available mobile pay-phone trailers and phone banks at locations where Gulf Coast evacuees are temporarily located. This already includes a phone bank inside the armory in Washington, D.C., and two pay-phone trailers in Baytown, Texas. Evacuees who use these phones will be able to make free five-minute local and long-distance calls. Verizon will deploy additional mobile pay-phone trailers or phone banks in areas where federal agencies or the Red Cross say they are needed.
- Verizon Wireless is also donating 10,000 free cell phones with service to the American Red Cross, to be used at major centers where evacuees are located, including the Houston Astrodome. Verizon Wireless Emergency Communication Centers (WECCs) have been established in Houston at the Astrodome and Reliant Arena to help evacuees place calls and re-charge their phones, and will provide technical support and customer service, free of charge. More than 300 calls per hour are being made at the two Houston evacuee centers. Verizon Wireless employees from other states have volunteered their assistance to the WECCs.
- Verizon is distributing an additional 20,000 pre-paid Verizon long-distance calling cards throughout the Southwest - mostly in Texas -- to help evacuees reach out to families and other loved ones. Ten thousand cards are being distributed by Verizon employees and another 10,000 are being distributed by Verizon prepaid card retailer 7-Eleven stores in the region.
- Verizon is also giving high-priority to requests from FEMA and other federal and state agencies for phone lines and other telecom services needed at existing and new evacuee centers where Verizon has a wireline presence. In most cases, the company is installing circuits the same day they are requested. For example, installation work is already under way at locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
- Verizon has streamlined the automated greeting on its national 411 directory assistance service, allowing callers to be quickly routed to operators who have access to a growing list of hurricane relief agencies and services. Callers to 411 can simply say "Katrina relief" for the focused service.
- Verizon will provide thousands of employee volunteers at company call-centers around the U.S. to receive and process calls during a national telethon Friday night to raise funds for victims.
For updated information on Hurricane Katrina efforts, visit the following Web sites:
The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications. In 2004, the foundation awarded more than 26,000 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 resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, 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.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.