January 7, 2010

Just 10 Days Left to Make Top 10 in U.S. Cellular’s Calling All Communities

With ten days remaining in U.S. Cellular’s Calling All Communities campaign, the competition for 10 schools to share $1 million will be a battle to the finish. The release of the Top 100 schools on December 23 seemed to generate a surge in school participation. Scotland County R-I Elementary School (Scotland County North School) remains in the top 100 and is making a last-ditched effort to get into the money. Could recent record-breaking voting totals indicate a Top 10 shake-up? U.S. Cellular officials say anything’s possible.

“We call it the ‘Destiny Christian’ factor,” said Nathan Waddell, director of sales for Missouri, referring to the small Oklahoma school that had never appeared on any Top 20 list last year but rallied enough votes in the final days of the campaign to win. “The Top 10 has been fairly steady for weeks, but that changed this week. Clearly, schools are making an organized, large-scale push for the final two weeks of the campaign. School spirit and community might are ultimately going to decide this race.”

More than 6,300 votes were cast in one day early this week, breaking previous daily voting records. Several schools like Kate Wickham Elementary School in Coralville, Iowa, Burley Elementary School in Chicago and Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn. have moved steadily up the list - one just recently unsettling a Top 10 mainstay.

“The leading schools are running incredible campaigns,” said Jeff Childs, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for U.S. Cellular. “The key for them is to keep the momentum going. Gaining just a few hundred votes could catapult more schools into a championship spot.”

Schools are partnering with local businesses to bring attention to their efforts. Robert Lince Elementary School in Selah, Wash., even teamed with a radio station to air Calling All Communities-themed songs to encourage support. “A brilliant idea and a firm message to other schools not to rest until the final vote is cast,” Childs said.

Voting ends January 15, 2010. With rankings no longer posted, the next published Top 10 list won’t appear until February when the 2010 Calling All Communities Champions are revealed. Those 10 schools with the most votes will win $100,000 each to use however they choose.

Anyone 18 or older can visit any U.S. Cellular store to pick up a voting code to use online. Only one vote is counted person and each code is valid once. Schools of all sizes, public, private, urban and rural, K- 12 are eligible. Winning schools will be announced in February 2010. No purchase is necessary to vote. See official rules at uscellular.com/callingallcommunities.

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