Verizon Wireless Employees Make School Shopping Pleasant for Students in Need

COLUMBIA, SC — With back-to-school shopping underway, there is some extra hustle and bustle in the Richland Mall. For the last week, Verizon Wireless employees at the company's Columbia Call Center, located in the mall, have collected school supplies to help a local charity help students in need.

Today, the company officially concluded a school supply drive and donated 18,250 items to The Cooperative Ministry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those in need in the Midlands. The items collected included: 152 book bags, 5,290 pencils, 1,710 pens, 701 boxes of crayons, 77 highlighters, 884 packages of notebook paper, 3,993 spiral notebooks, 4,487 pocket folders, 776 binders, and 180 erasers.

"It's wonderful to see our employees actively involving themselves in our community," said Raymond J. Auch, director of customer service for the Columbia Call Center. "We are grateful to The Cooperative Ministry for allowing us to demonstrate our commitment to the community, and we take great pride in knowing students in need will return to school prepared thanks to our efforts."

The Cooperative Ministry will combine the items collected at the Columbia Call Center with those collected by other Midlands-area businesses, agencies, congregations and individuals. The nonprofit organization, in its 11th year of coordinating the school supply drive, expects to provide supplies for almost 7,000 Midlands-area students.

Students of all ages will benefit from the school supply drive and will each receive a book bag that includes the following items: 10 pencils, three pens, one box of crayons, one package of highlighters and markers, three packages of notebook paper, one spiral notebook, five pocket folders, one ruler, one glue stick and one eraser.

"We are extremely grateful for the support the Columbia Call Center employees have shown for our drive," said the Rev. Margie L. Gallman, interfaith coordinator for The Cooperative Ministry. "Without the support of companies like Verizon Wireless, it would be nearly impossible to provide for all of the students who need our help each year."

This is the second year the Columbia Call Center has participated in the drive.

Earlier this summer, Verizon Wireless completed a $10 million expansion project that nearly doubled the size of the Columbia Call Center; at the same time, the company announced it had filled nearly half of the 500 jobs to be created by the expansion.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 28 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at