press release

Texaco Press Release - A Missing Child Is Just a Phone Call Away -- Technology Brings New Hope

The Texaco-Child Watch GTE Prepaid Phone Card A New Tool In Locating Missing Children


HOUSTON, April 15 - One out of every seven missing children is recovered as a direct result of their photograph being seen by the public. Now there is new hope for families and law enforcement officials involved in the search for the thousands of children who disappear every year. Thanks to advances in technology and telecommunications, prepaid phone cards are the newest tool for finding missing children.

The first phone card to offer this advantage is the Texaco-Child Watch GTE Prepaid Phone Card. Available in participating Texaco-branded stations across the country, the cards feature pictures of missing children as well as the place and date they were last seen.

Dubbed the "electronic milk carton," prepaid phone cards featuring a photo of a missing child are expected to be more effective in recovery efforts than traditional approaches such as posters, billboards or postcards. That's because they are typically carried in wallets and used over and over again, making it more likely that the children's faces will become ingrained in people's memories and lead to a possible sighting and recovery.

"We are always looking for new ways to help find missing children, and this type of corporate involvement is a major boost for our efforts," says Don Wood, executive director of Child Watch of North America, an organization that provides investigative and financial assistance to parents searching for their missing children. "There's no question we'll find children with these cards."

Child Watch will receive five percent of the retail price of every card sold, providing a much-needed financial boost to the non-profit agency. GTE projects its contribution to Child Watch will top $1.2 million in 1997. "We saw our prepaid phone card as a perfect opportunity to assist in a worthwhile effort -- finding missing children," said Gordon Allen, president of GTE Card Services Incorporated. "It combines the vast resources of GTE with the distribution power of the Texaco brand to bring a missing child one step closer to home."

In addition to picturing a child on its phone cards, GTE is using other high-tech resources to assist in the search for missing children. The company has created a web site for Child Watch at that features children's photos as well as safety tips for parents. GTE also will distribute cellular telephones and pagers to the agency's investigators.

In addition to this program, Child Watch and Texaco have implemented The Child Watch Kidguard Safety Program which is offered to the public annually free of charge. Parents can have their children fingerprinted and photographed by representatives from Child Watch and Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. (TRMI) or Star Enterprise, an affiliate of Texaco that refines and markets Texaco-branded products in 26 East and Gulf Coast states. Parents will receive two laminated wallet-size ID cards, which include a photo and description of each child, and/or a video of each child. In addition, a training manual will be given to parents to guide them in educating their children on safety issues.

"We've worked with Child Watch over the years, and are very happy to be part of a program that pioneers a new approach for finding missing children," said Star Enterprise Vice President of Marketing Joseph W. Bernitt.

"With this partnership between GTE and Texaco, we have the best of both worlds: the power of telecommunications as well as thousands of locations where people frequently travel," added Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. Vice President of Marketing John Price. "This could be a real lifesaver."

With more than 13,000 Texaco-branded stations across the nation, Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. and Star Enterprise are major sponsors of Child Watch.

Child Watch of North America is a non-profit organization that provides investigative and financial assistance to parents searching for their missing children.

Updated: April 1997