United Way Estevan board member Roberta DeRosier believes that if it weren’t for the students at the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS), the United Way Estevan’s telethon wouldn’t be able to carry on throughout the night.
Each year, the United Way has its 33-hour telethon that runs from 8 a.m. on a Friday morning to 5 p.m. on a Saturday evening; this year it will be Oct. 26 and 27. And it’s the contributions of the ECS student representative council (SRC) and the other students at the school who allow the telethon to remain on air overnight.
DeRosier said the idea started with Weyburn’s United Way, with the Comp. kids’ takeover. Students from the Weyburn Comprehensive School would come in and take over the telethon for a few overnight hours.
“We approached the Comp. kids here, the SRC kids, and we kind of stole the idea here, and we’ve been doing it ever since where the kids get us through the night,” said DeRosier.
The young people in Weyburn no longer have a telethon takeover, and it means Weyburn’s telethon doesn’t go throughout the night.
Levi Stepp and Nathan Littlefield are the co-presidents of this year’s SRC. They say they look forward to going in and taking over all components of the telethon – hosting, entertaining, operating cameras and more – so that the bulk of the United Way’s board members can get some rest during the night.
But this year there’s a twist. The hours traditionally allotted for the ECS takeover will be split up among several groups: its football team, a basketball team, Students Helping Others Unite Together Socially club and others.
“Just so we don’t have the whole night load on ourselves, we’re having it split up so that we can keep more entertainment and more excitement going on as we go, instead of just having one group figuring out what to do all night and having to plan it,” said Littlefield.
The SRC has helped these groups in the past, and now they’re returning the favour.
“It’s a lot of payback for SRC to do from 12 until 6 (a.m.), so each club has an hour shift, so then they come in for that hour, and then the next one can go, so it should hopefully be more entertaining this year, and not trying to figure out things to do,” said Stepp.
Stepp said he likes to host, and Littlefield likes to entertain. They urge people throughout the night to donate to the telethon and the member agencies it supports.
“We do things from lip-synching to acting to little games that we’ve planned throughout the night,” said Littlefield. “I’m always somebody who likes to get involved, and I always think it’s a lot of fun.”
They’re so busy throughout the night without their efforts that they often forget about the time.
DeRosier believes the entertainment provided by the kids is fantastic. When they first arrive, they’re often shy and quiet as they try to stablish their work. By the end of their shift, they’re trying things they haven’t done before, and they’re really into the broadcast.
“It’s not just the level of entertainment, but the level of energy, which you need at 1, 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, You need that level of energy, and I don’t know of anybody else who could do it, besides teenagers. We’ve had some really bizarre things happen during the night, because you have over-tired teenagers, and it is just fun. It is some good, wholesome fun.”
They find events like the telethon teach students about the value of community spirit and the need to help out with fundraising and showing how all that can help to give proceeds to someone in need.
“It’s always good to get involved in your community, be aware of things that are going on, and it teaches people good work experience, and it helps people get involved,” said Littlefield.
And it’s always a lot of fun, Stepp said. He loves going to the telethon each year, regardless of whether he is singing or hosting.
“Lots of times we tell our friends to come down and sit throughout the night, so that’s fun seeing them in the audience if they’re not on the SRC, so then they make us have even more fun because they’re there,” said Stepp.
They said they will miss the telethon experience when go to post-secondary education next year, because it has been a great experience.
DeRosier said the SRC members are leaders in their community and their peer group, and during the night, they are leading the United Way’s board by being able to continue the telethon.
“They are highly affecting every person in this community as far as our member agencies. Without these kids, we couldn’t do what we do, which means the member agencies couldn’t do what they do.”