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MONTGOMERY WARD ANNOUNCES NATIONAL ROLL-OUT OF PROJECT KIDCARE IN RESPONSE TO GROWING PROBLEM OF CHILD ABDUCTION AND EXPLOITATION

 WASHINGTON, May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to an increase in child abduction and child exploitation, Montgomery Ward today announced the national roll-out of PROJECT KidCare to 338 of its 351 stores. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 800,000 children were reported missing in 1992 -- an 80 percent increase from ten years ago. The national roll-out coincides with the tenth anniversary of National Missing Children's Day.
 PROJECT KidCare, a national standardized photo ID program developed and offered by Polaroid Corp., is designed to promote greater child safety and awareness. The KidCare "passport" includes a free instant photo of the child and an accompanying safety booklet in which all pertinent descriptive information can be maintained. When it was offered in Chicago, PROJECT KidCare attracted nearly 40,000 families in the first three weekends.
 "We were overwhelmed by the response to this program in our Chicagoland stores. We believe there is no reason why we can't reach two million families during 1993," said Bernard F. Brennan, chairman and chief executive officer of Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Ward is the first corporate sponsor to offer this child identification program, in connection with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Polaroid.
 "A clear, accurate photograph of a child is the most important tool needed by law enforcement officials in launching an effective search for a missing child," Brennan said. "Surprisingly, few parents have recent photographs of their children that are clear enough to help law enforcement officials. PROJECT KidCare will help solve that program for millions of families who want to make sure they are adequately prepared."
 The television series "America's Most Wanted" has produced a special program on missing children to be broadcast this evening. PROJECT KidCare will be featured as part of that program.
 In its ten-year history, the National Center has helped return more than 22,000 children to their parents, while 6,000 cases remain unsolved. The Center is officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice as being the national clearinghouse for all information on missing and exploited children. The Center's 800 hotline handles more than 640 calls a day.
 "There is a mistaken perception that the plight of the missing or exploited child is an overstated or declining problem," Brennan said. "Just the opposite is true. Increasing numbers of children are missing each year, and the number of children exploited or abused is also on the rise. The most effective weapon against these terrible crimes is education. That is why we have decided to invest more than $4 million in rolling this program out across the country," Brennan said.
 Brennan went on to say that the growing problem of child abduction or exploitation is not just the sensational stories one reads or hears about in the media where children are abducted by strangers. "More often than not, the child is abducted by someone he or she comes to know.
 "Therefore, the old advice we used to give our kids, `Stay away from strangers,' is no longer adequate. Knowledge is power for our kids. They need to learn to trust their own feelings when they are put in an uncomfortable situation; to say no to an adult who makes them feel this way; and to tell an adult they trust what happened," Brennan added.
 In connection with the center, Montgomery Ward will also be providing helpful information to families on these issues, with particular focus on how to select proper day care or a baby-sitter, and what to do when you think your child is missing.
 Montgomery Ward will be hosting PROJECT KidCare in all of its stores at least three times a year. The national roll-out will begin on Memorial Day weekend and continue for two successive weekends. Other scheduled times will be in August and October. Parents and their children need only come into a neighborhood Montgomery Ward store to have the child's picture taken and receive the free information kit.
 -0- 5/25/93
 /CONTACT: Pat Plodzeen, 312-329-7670, or Nicole Reilly, 312-329-7642, or today only, Plodzeen or Reilly, 703-235-3900, both of Burson-Marsteller, for Montgomery Ward/


CO: Montgomery Ward ST: Illinois IN: REA SU:

GK -- NY094 -- 2325 05/25/93 16:54 EDT
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Date:May 25, 1993
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