The United Way Estevan 2020 Telethon will start this Friday at the Royal Canadian Legion's Estevan branch and will roll for the traditional 33 hours, filled with entertainment, beautiful stories and community spirit, all of which will be streamed live on Access.
"The countdown is on and we are busy completing the finishing touches to host the 44th annual telethon on Oct. 16 and 17," said United Ways Estevan president Melanie Graham.
Telethon is the United Way Estevan's biggest fundraiser of the year, which attracts hundreds of thousands of dollars that are used to support 15 member agencies - local vital charitable organizations and other community initiatives and projects.
Graham said that despite the economically challenging times, the support they've been receiving leading up to the telethon was overwhelming. Many local businesses stepped forward with fundraisers to benefit the United Way Estevan's telethon. Some of them are still ongoing.
Until Oct. 16, The Tower Café, 1124 Social House and Willy’s The Tap House is running a pizza fundraiser, in which a portion from each pizza purchase is donated to the United Way's telethon. Southern Bolt supply also came on board and up to Oct. 18, for every $10 donated to the United Way Estevan at their business a person can enter to win a Milwaukee three-piece combo kit.
Up to Oct. 15, Estevan Pizza and Chinese Cuisine direct a portion of proceeds from any order to the telethon. And Murray GM is hosting a kick-off to the telethon event on Oct. 14 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. This will be the second straight year for the kickoff.
Besides, all Estevan banks and the Affinity Credit Union started accepting donations on behalf of the United Way. This will allow individuals to support the great cause at their convenience without attending the legion hall if they choose so.
"We are very grateful to these businesses for supporting the telethon to help others in our community. It's a visible sign to (the theme) United We Stand," said Graham.
She added that the community in general is already going above and beyond to support the cause, which also speaks to the theme of the year.
"People came with two, three or four (handmade) items (to be donated for the raffle table). All the generosity speaks to our theme well, United We Stand," said Graham.
An assortment of 80 handcrafted items were donated by numerous community members. The online silent auction will see anything from birdhouses, crocheted items and quilts to original photo prints, Christmas centrepieces, canning and, of course, baking, which this year will be supplied in a form of gift certificates to be redeemed from the donation provider at any time.
The items are already posted on the United Way 2020 bid Items Facebook page for viewing and bidding.
"It's exciting, it's our first time to have the online auction," said Graham.
While the items will also be set up at the legion and will receive some camera time, there will be no in-person viewing this year. People will need to place their bids under items on the Facebook page or over the phone. Items will be closing periodically one at a time during the telethon hours.
The auction items will make great Christmas gifts while still benefiting the United Way and their member agencies.
The raffle quilt created by the Hearts and Hands Quilting Guild is still on display at Henders Drugs. It also will be raffled off during the telethon.
Direct monetary donations started flowing in before the event as well, and there were a lot of great surprises, which will only continue during the telethon with some donors coming in to present their cheques live.
Graham said that everything is set up and ready to go. Due to the safety measures, the entertainment this year is a mixture of live and pre-recorded acts.
"The committee has worked diligently, very hard, to provide an action-packed schedule. It has a variety of entertainers," said Graham.
Local band The Way, who've previously performed at the telethon, will close this year. The full entertainment lineup can be found on A24 of this edition of the Mercury.
Some member agencies will join the United Way volunteers and board members during the hours of the telethon, while other interviews were also pre-recorded ahead of time.
"With our theme United We Stand, I strongly believe this is portrayed well in Estevan as people are more united, acting together, providing help to people they don't know and showing more care and understanding to others around them," said Graham.
Donations to the United Way Estevan 44th annual Telethon can be made at any time at Estevan banks, Affinity Credit Union in Estevan, participating businesses online at enutedwayestevan.com. During the hours of the telethon, people and businesses can do their pledges over the phone and at the legion hall in Estevan.
"Youth, families and the elderly in our community face challenges in accessing necessary services. United Way Estevan member agencies and community impact projects helped provide basic care, comfort and support for those in need. As a vital member of the community of Estevan we are appealing to your generosity and supporting this year's telethon," said Graham.
"Alone we can do so little, united we can do so much. You will be helping someone you know! Join us next weekend!"