Hesperia Christian School officials are asking would-be donors not to purchase advertisements on promotional materials for the school. According to school officials, the company producing the cups, foam fingers and water bottles don't represent the company and aren't delivering the goods paid for.

Mary Kay representative Cathy Gomez was contacted by Moline, Illinois-based Spirit Solutions on November 8.

"I'm not affiliated with the school," Gomez said. "They told me they've had Mary Kay sponsorship in the past. They went on the Web site and got the list."

She paid the company $300, half of it up front, to put an ad for stadium cups, "which were a fund-raiser for cheerleaders or something."

It was only later that Gomez started to think twice about her decision.

"They don't give you much of a chance to make a decision or think about it. 'It needs to be right now, because we're going to call the next Mary Kay person,'" she said. "After the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided I would call the school, just to make sure that they were legitimate."

HCS administrator Sharon Romero told Gomez the school had been trying to get the company to stop using the school's name for some time.

"This company has been contacted by us several times over the last couple of years, and they just don't stop," said Romero. "The stuff was junk and we couldn't sell it."

California's Unfair Competition Law prohibits "representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities which they do not have."

"We don't work with any schools without signed authorization," said Spirit Solutions president Sylvanio Perino. "We either have a signature from the principal, the athletic director, the cheer coach, someone with authorization."

The signature in question at Hesperia Christian belongs to Sally Orlando, the school's athletic director, who was still known as Sally Ruisch back on January 12, 2006.

"There was never a contract that you signed. You filled out this paper and signed up what you wanted," Orlando said. Spirit Solutions had called her, she said, after school supporters had called the company in Illinois. "'People have been calling to advertise for your school.' I said, 'that's funny, most people advertise here.'"

But the form the company faxed her stressed that the program is "completely FREE to your school/organization," and she checked the boxes for the 2006-2007 baseball, football, basketball and volleyball programs, and filled in the school's cross country program.

"They told me it wasn't a contract," Orlando said. Within weeks, the school received branded water bottles, seat cushions and foam fingers. "It was definitely freebie stuff, you know."

"We've done a lot of business with Hesperia," Perino said. "We've shipped them a lot of stuff."

"We haven't received a thing, I think, after the first four weeks of January 2006," said Orlando.

And the solicitations had started prior to January 2006, according to Romero.

"It doesn't even matter if they have [a form] signed January 2006, because I have two documented phone conversations and a signed letter in August," she said. "They sent a contract to us and asked us to sign, but we didn't do it."

Romero called Spirit Solutions in August and November, telling them to stop, and on December 5, the school's attorney, Michael H. Porrazzo, sent a sternly worded cease-and-desist letter to Spirit Solutions.

"You are hearby directed to immediately cease and desist from using, promoting, sponsoring, advertising, soliciting on behalf or referring to Hesperia [Christian School] in any way, shape or form in any of your sales or marketing activities," the letter reads in part.

"I haven't seen a letter," Perino said. "I have not seen that."

According to the Web site of the Better Business Bureau of Des Moines, which covers western Illinois, Spirit Solutions has an "unsatisfactory record" with the BBB based on a "failure to respond to one or more complaints and two or more otherwise unresolved complaints."

"We've received about 20 complaints against the company, and we're currently looking into the complaints to determine how to best resolve the situation," said Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for the Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General's office. "We'd like to encourage anybody who feels they've been victimized to contact our office."

Perino's name also shows up on the Web site for Rainbow Gifts, a Moline-based mail order company that, according to the Web site, "specializes in over the rainbow, gay pride and lesbian pride carrying a large selection of pride merchandise in all the rainbow pride colors as well as unique gifts for all to appreciate and for all your gay shopping needs."

Sylvanio Perino's name shows up on a page introducing Spirit Solutions, but nowhere else on the site for Rainbow Gifts, owned by Shawn P. Lawson. Phone calls to the Moline store went to voicemail.

According to Perino, the issue will be going away soon: The form Orlando signed in January 2006, which Perino calls a contract, and Orlando disputes, "is only good for a two-year period," he said. The company will stop soliciting on behalf of HCS "effective January 1, 2008."

"Every time you call them, they have an answer," Orlando said.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.