Richmond Area Reading Council Kicks Off Books For Babies Program

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RICHMOND, Va. - Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages today donated $7,500 to the Richmond Area Reading Council to fund the "Books for Babies" program for 2000 as part of Bell Atlantic's continued commitment to children's literacy. This follows a $10,000 Bell Atlantic gift in 1999 to expand the program.

The "Books for Babies" program, which is implemented at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals (MCV), encourages reading to children from birth through childhood, by providing new mothers and their infants with a literacy packet containing a book and instructional materials. In 1999, 500 new mothers received "Books for Babies" packets.

Bell Atlantic's donation supports the purchase and printing of materials contained in the literacy packets. The Richmond Area Reading Council is implementing a follow-up program to evaluate the program's impact and to provide additional reading materials.

"Bell Atlantic partnered with the Richmond Area Reading Council to combat illiteracy from the very beginning of a child's life," said Lou Laste, staff director, community relations, Bell Atlantic Directory Group. "We are happy that our donations are helping the 'Books for Babies' program to grow and have a significant impact on the community."

Later in the evening, the Richmond Area Reading Council will also host a reception celebrating the "Books for Babies" program and its volunteers. Invitees include the Superintendents of Richmond area schools, members of the Virginia Literacy Council, Bell Atlantic executives and officials from the Richmond Area Reading Council.

"The volunteers involved with the 'Books for Babies' program have made this program a success," said Gay Robinson, chairman, Books for Babies. "This reception gives the supporters of children's literacy in Richmond the chance to thank the volunteers, many new to the program, and Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages for making the program possible."

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With 43 million telephone access lines and nearly 10 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and one of the world's largest publisher of yellow pages shopping directories. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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