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Press Release

Santa, Independence Blue Cross Elves Make Early Stop to Philadelphia

Students at Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School to receive gifts, coats

Philadelphia, PA - December 23, 2009 - Santa Claus made an early holiday visit today to children at a North Philadelphia elementary school during a pre-Christmas stop arranged by the "elves" from Independence Blue Cross.

The 280 students in kindergarten through fourth grade at the Issac A. Sheppard School screamed with joy as the jolly red elf entered the auditorium and presented each child with a wrapped gift labeled with his or her name. The school also received an early holiday gift: A $2,000 donation to be used to purchase needed school supplies. Independence Blue Cross president and CEO, Joseph A. Frick, presented the corporate gift to school principal James P. Otto.

"Santa Day" is an annual holiday tradition for the school. Santa traditionally makes his entrance during "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - the final song in a concert performed by the Independence Blue Cross choir, the Sounds of Independence.

Each year, hundreds of Independence Blue Cross employees donate new holiday gifts for the Sheppard School students. Every gift is individually selected for a specific child. To surprise the students with Santa's arrival, a collection of undercover "elves" wrap, pack, and secretly ship the gifts to the school before the annual Santa Day event.  In addition to the nearly 300 gifts for each of the Sheppard School students, Independence Blue Cross collected 300 new winter coats for the school to give its students in need.

Independence Blue Cross has been a corporate sponsor of the Sheppard School, a 98 percent poverty-level school, for about 15 years. Independence Blue Cross has been offering academic and social support through programs such as the Philadelphia Reads Power Partners program and various beautification projects.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.