SANTEE, Calif. -- Freshmen students at Santana High School in California, should feel even better about their school, their classmates, and themselves, thanks to a generous donation by a local mother to the school's program to help smooth the often difficult transition of freshmen into high school.
Elizabeth Gern, of Santee, is donating her $10,000 grand prize in the "Back-to-School" Sweepstakes, jointly sponsored by Verizon Communications and LifetimeTelevision, to the school, its Link Crew Program and Camp Clue. She is making the donation in the names of her daughter Melissa, a sophomore at Santana High, and her other children who have been or will be Santana High students. Ms. Gern presented a check for $10,000 during a special ceremony at the school today.
"The generosity of Elizabeth Gern, a compassionate, caring mother, should be a sign to us all that our lives and the lives of our children can be made infinitely better by one simple act of kindness," said Jill Wagner, vice president of consumer marketing for Verizon.
Ms. Gern won the grand prize in the Verizon/Lifetime.com "Back-to-School" Sweepstakes in support of Verizon's Extra Credit for Schools Program.
"I want to do something useful with the grand prize money," said Ms. Gern. "Donating it in my children's names to the high school, which has over 2,000 students, and to the Link Crew Program, which helps so many students feel part of one community, is something I am happy and proud to do."
Link Crew is a national program based in Colorado. Its goal is to help guide freshmen toward academic and social success in high school by providing a highly supportive environment, including structures for tutoring, acknowledgement of student achievement and peer counseling. It matches freshmen with upperclassmen, who make the newcomers feel like valued members of the high school community from the first day of school to the last. Juniors and seniors undergo special training to serve as Link Crew guides.
The Link Crew Program has been launched in over 100 high schools throughout California, Colorado, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and British Columbia. Last year, Link Crew guides welcomed over 250,000 freshmen into high school. The Link Crew Program has proven to be an effective antidote to feelings of alienation during those all-important teenage years. As one school administrator noted, "We want to bring kids in to become part of a community and to feel a sense of belonging, to feel attachments."
Camp Clue, located in the mountains outside San Diego, is a program in which students and adults gain experience in team building and tolerance training.
Through Verizon's Extra Credit for Schools Program, Verizon long-distance customers can donate five percent of their long-distance payments to a local school, school district or educational foundation of their choice.
When customers sign up for long-distance service from Verizon, they can choose one of the simple, surprise-free calling plans: Timeless, Best Times, or State Saver. At that time, they can designate a favorite school, district, or foundation to receive the donations. If the school, district, or foundation is not already enrolled in the program, the customer may nominate it for the program. Verizon will automatically set aside a sum of money comparable to 5 percent of a customer's monthly long-distance usage charges for the designated school, school district, or educational foundation. Each quarter, the local school, district, or foundation receives a check made in the customer's name.
Currently, Extra Credit for Schools is active in 35 states with over 60,000 Verizon long-distance customers participating. The program is targeted toward K-12 schools and currently benefits over 16,000 schools. Since the program's inception in 1999, donations to schools nationwide have surpassed $700,000.
The funds have no restrictions. Schools can use the funds to purchase reference materials, audiovisual equipment, calculators, art supplies, guest speakers, science work/study labs, computer hardware/software, playground equipment, globes and maps, English as a Second Language program materials, Internet connectivity, and much more. Some schools have used the funds to support critically ill students. As long as the chosen schools spend the extra revenue in ways that will enrich the learning experience of their students, they are free to use the money as they wish.
In 2001, Verizon joined forces with Lifetime Television to promote the Extra Credit for Schools back-to-school campaign online, using online button and banner advertisements, newsletters, printable brochures, and e-cards, as well as TV advertising.
Verizon provides long-distance service in 40 states. With more than 7 million customers, Verizon Long Distance is committed to providing simple, surprise-free long-distance service that includes a portfolio of residential and business services.
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Lifetime is the #1 cable television network in primetime and the leader in women's television. Lifetime is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families. Launched in 1984, Lifetime serves over 84 million households nationwide, available on more than 11,000 cable systems and alternative delivery systems. Lifetime launched a 24-hour sister service, the Lifetime Movie Network, in 1998, and a second sister service, Lifetime Real Women, launched in August 2001.
On the Web, Lifetime Online (www.lifetimetv.com) features informational resources and interactive entertainment. All four services, Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, and Lifetime Online, are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, a 50/50 joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.