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Press Release

IBC Hosts United Way 'Stuff the Bus' Event to Collect School Supplies for Homeless Children

Philadelphia, PA - August 4, 2010 - A backpack filled with notebooks, pencils, pens, and erasers are just ordinary school supplies to most kids, but to a homeless child those few items can be precious, helping to bridge the gap between fitting in and feeling different.

As one of the sponsors of the fourth annual United Way "Stuff the Bus" campaign, which runs from June 21 to August 20, Independence Blue Cross  (IBC) is hosting an event today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to collect school supplies that will go to homeless children living in shelters in Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery counties.

The event, held at Independence Blue Cross headquarters at 1901 Market Street, is being coordinated by the Blue Crew, IBC's corporate volunteer group, and staffed by more than 40 IBC high school and college summer interns. The students will be collecting and sorting school supplies donated by Independence Blue Cross employees, neighboring businesses, and the community.

The supplies will be brought to the United Way and included with thousands of other donations to be loaded on school buses and delivered to the children on August 24. The United Way aims to deliver 5,000 backpacks filled with supplies this year to 56 shelters before the first day of school, surpassing last year's goal by 1,500 backpacks.

"A good education is one of the most important things we can do for our children to ensure they grow up to live independent and productive lives," said Joseph A. Frick, the 2010 United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania campaign chair. "We're proud to be part of such an important community-wide initiative that gives children basic essentials and helps them start school on the right foot."

More children living in homeless shelters

Sadly, there are more children living in homeless shelters every year. In the Philadelphia region, about 10,000 kids wake up in a shelter each morning. As housing costs continue to outpace wages, more families are at risk of becoming homeless. The stress of this situation can hit children especially hard. Studies show that 74 percent of homeless children worry about not having a place to live and 87 percent worry that something bad will happen to their families.

"We're committed to helping kids go to school ready to learn and feel good about themselves and their futures," said Jill Michal, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania "Something as simple as having the right supplies in a clean new backpack can work wonders for a child's esteem and willingness to work hard."

Stuff the Bus collections

Through donations and the help of volunteers in our community, Stuff the Bus raises money and collects items such as three-ring binders, loose leaf-paper, spiral notebooks, pencils, pens, and erasers. An average backpack with supplies costs approximately $25. The United Way prepares two different backpacks — for grades K-8 and grades 9-12 — which appropriately vary in style, size, and content.

For more information about United Way Stuff the Bus, to make a donation, or volunteer to help, visit www.uwsepa.org/.

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.

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