Companies arrange for letters to troops


It's not too late for Baltimore area residents to send a special New Year's message, at no charge, to someone participating in Operation Desert Shield.

Tomorrow anyone who wishes to send a greeting will be able to type a letter on a personal computer during an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the brand central portion of the Sears store at the Columbia Mall in Columbia.

The event is being sponsored by Sears Roebuck & Co. and Prodigy Services Co., a joint venture of Sears and IBM. Prodigy and Sears representatives will be there to help participants use a personal computer equipped with the PRODIGY service.

PRODIGY is an on-line computer service designed for people to get information from sources such as an on-line encyclopedia, to communicate and to conduct transactions such as paying bills and shopping at Sears and other retailers.

The letters will be sent through telephone lines to a special electronic mailbox at the PRODIGY service. From there, they will be transmitted electronically through the IBM Information Network to the Middle East, where they will be printed and put into envelopes. The letters will then be delivered to military post offices for distribution to the service men and women.

The letters can be delivered only if the sender has the specific names and addresses of the Desert Shield personnel. Please bring the name rank, serial number and military mailing addresses.

Open houses to send letters are being held at 30 Sears locations nationwide.

"The new year is coming and it's the quickest way to get messages from friends and family," said Karen Ray, branch manager of PRODIGY for the Washington district, which includes Baltimore.

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