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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 12, 2008

The S.O.S. Project, Unveiled As A Regional Effort To Save the Lives of Seniors and the Disabled Before Cycle of Deadly Hot Weather Arrives in the St. Louis Region

Charity Is Experiencing A Tremendous Lull In Donations of All Kinds

St. Louis County -- Cool Down St. Louis, a regional, all-volunteer, not-for-profit energy assistance and education charity covering about 17 MO/ILL counties, including the City of St. Louis and officials with Vatterott College, headquartered in St. Louis, which has 21 campuses across nine Midwestern states on Friday announced a comprehensive summer partnership.

“The S.O.S. Project,” (Saving Our Seniors) partnership was announced at the North Park Vatterott Campus in Berkeley by Pamela Bell, president and CEO, Vatterott College, Kevin X. McGowan, board president, Cool Down St. Louis, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and Dr. James Knight, vice-chair, Cool Down St. Louis.

“We realize that the public is struggling with high gasoline costs, mortgage or rent payments, and the escalating costs of food, and utilities,” said Kevin X. McGowan. “We just hope they realize that there are always less fortunate people than themselves.” McGowan noted that with current consistently moderate summer temperatures people are not thinking about the potentials of heat-related deaths and illnesses.

Cool Down St. Louis, an all-volunteer effort, where 100% of all tax-deductible donations go toward servicing the poor, also announced that it is experiencing a tremendous lull this summer in terms of the donation of air-conditioners and money.

“The Vatterott offer comes at a significant time for us,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, also a Cool Down St. Louis board member. “These are very challenging times for most of us -- let’s face it, it’s even tougher times for those on fixed incomes -- who maybe in desperate need of staying cool.”

Vatterott College has agreed as of Monday, July 14 to have three area campuses accept brand new donated and slightly used air-conditioners as drop-off sites. The three sites include North County, Sunset Hills and St. Charles County, Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. through August 31. The slightly used units will be examined by trained HVAC personnel, and they are urging the public to make sure that the units are working, and no more than two years old. The public may call 314-843-4200 or log-on to cooldownstlouis.org for drop-off locations.

Vatterott College also made a $5,000 pledge which helped purchase some new air-conditioners, and provided use of funds for energy assistance grants. The grants will help avoid utility disconnections for area seniors, disabled people and needy households with small infant.

“These two months are the most challenging in terms of making sure that the most vulnerable are safe and cool,” said Pamela Bell, president and CEO, Vatterott College. “We encourage our associates and area neighbors surrounding our three campuses to drop-off an air-conditioner, which may prove life-saving to some frail senior or disabled person.”

The Vatterott leadership has also agreed to have their HVAC personnel train Cool Down St. Louis officials to recognized the basics of handling units that are slightly used. They also stressed the importance of continuing a philanthropic relationship with Cool Down St. Louis and Heat-Up St. Louis.

Dooley also congratulated Vatterott College for being a good corporate citizen with a resolution, and named July and August, “Vatterott and Cool Down St. Louis S.O.S.” months in St. Louis County. Dooley stressed that the units will be distributed throughout the St. Louis region, despite the drop-offs being in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.

"The need is region-wide," said Dooley. "And wherever we need to help save a senior, we will do that through Cool Down St. Louis and their networking social service partners."

The Cool Down St. Louis officials challenged other area corporations and the general public to give: Cool Down St. Louis, c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188 or by using a credit card at www.cooldownstlouis.org.

Cool Down St. Louis officials believe that so far the region has dodged severe, deadly, hot weather. “Yet, it is critical to develop programs to further engage the public,” said Dr. James Knight, vice chair, Cool Down St. Louis. “So, far this summer, we’ve been luckier than most regions. Many parts of the country are still struggling and suffering with hot temperatures. Hot weather taxes our physically being.”

Cool Down St. Louis officials also encouraged seniors and the disabled to continue to keep their air-conditioners on, if they have them. The charity stressed that in cooperation with AmerenUE, if customers attempt to make payment arrangements on their summer electric bills, or if they qualify and receive a Cool Down grant, the utility company must be notified in advance, and will attempt not to disconnect their services.

The three Vatterott College campus drop-off sites are: NorthPark, 8580, Evans Ave, Berkeley, MO, 314-264-1000; Sunset Hills, 12970 Maurer Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO, 314-843-4200; and St. Charles County - O’Fallon, 927 E. Terra Lane, O'Fallon, MO, 636-978-7488.

The brand new and slightly used units will be distributed throughout the St. Louis region, based on qualification. Seniors, the disabled and needy households with small sick children, can call the automated Cool Down St. Louis Resource Hotline at 314-241-7668.

The winter charity, Heat-Up St. Louis is currently negotiating with the L’Ecole Culinaire chefs for a public, high-end culinary benefit, in 2009.
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