SIOUX FALLS, SD — Verizon Wireless announced today it has donated $5,500 to the Sioux Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross (SEARC) of Sioux Falls to purchase two Verizon Wireless PC 5220 AirCards and use its NationalAccess high-speed data network for two years. SEARC will use the wireless technology to support its Project Video Connect program and provide faster disaster relief services, both at no charge to the public.
Started in June 2003, Project Video Connect enables military dependents, family and friends to record and send a two-minute video message to service personnel anywhere in the world. In the past, military families and friends had to visit Red Cross offices in Sioux Falls to record a message. But with the service and technology provided by Verizon Wireless, SEARC can record and send video messages via the Internet from anywhere in eastern South Dakota. Since Project Video Connect began, 195 messages have been sent to military personnel serving all branches of the armed services, including National Guard and Reserve members who are on active duty.
The Verizon Wireless technology donation dovetails with a $5,100 grant from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, which attracts, manages, and distributes charitable gifts for Sioux Falls and neighboring cities and towns. The grant has been used to purchase two laptop computers and mobile printers that utilize a special Web-based software to enable video messaging for Project Video Connect.
The Verizon Wireless PC 5220 AirCards and wireless service also will improve the way SEARC responds to disasters. Typically, the Red Cross issues credit cards to disaster victims for food, clothing, medicine and other supplies. This wireless technology enables the Red Cross to activate the credit cards at the scene of a disaster. In the past, victims had to wait to use the cards until Red Cross personnel returned to their offices to activate them online.
"With this new technology, we can extend the reach of our services into the community and better serve the people of South Dakota," said Jeff Stingley, chief executive officer of SEARC, which serves six counties in eastern South Dakota, including Clay, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Moody and Turner. In 2004, the SEARC team responded to 116 disasters and assisted 689 victims.
The Verizon Wireless AirCards enable wireless access to the company's NationalAccess high-speed data network. NationalAccess, based on 1XRTT technology, connects to the Internet wirelessly with average speeds of 60-80 kilobits per second.
"Our NationalAccess network will help speed relief to disaster victims and will enable military personnel and their loved ones who are separated to more easily connect," said Nancy Clark, presidentGreat Plains Region, Verizon Wireless. "We've made this donation to the Sioux Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross with the hope that it will help countless people in need."
Arrangements for SEARC to go to a business or other location to record videos can be made by calling SEARC at (605) 336-2448 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Persons making the videos need to be provided with a valid email address for the military member.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 43.8 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, N.J., Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.
About Sioux Empire American Red Cross
The Sioux Empire Chapter is your local Red Cross in southeastern South Dakota, located in Sioux Falls. Operating around the clock, every day of the year, the Chapter provides disaster preparedness and relief, safety and health education, international tracing and services to military personnel and their families. Find more information on the web at www.siouxempireredcross.org.