United Way Telethon will take place at the legion in a new format

The 44th United Way Estevan Telethon is a go and it will take place at the Estevan branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in October.

The theme for this year is United We Stand.

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“It’s very fitting for this year. The community comes together at this time to help others and truly you will be helping someone you know,” said United Way Estevan board president Melanie Graham.

The goal for this year is $320,000, which is a bit lower than last year, but that’s due to the state of the economy.

“I’m a bit nervous (about the goal), but it’s a group effort. And the community in the past has supported us and I feel no different this year. It’s a unique year and just during the last four to five months we’ve stood together, we help each other, it’s evident. And I think we’ll be good in the end.”

The United Way Estevan board discussed plans Sept. 2 during their first weekly meeting after the summer break.

“We had lots to discuss as Telethon will take place on October 16 and 17 at the legion. Our Plan B will be put into place,” said Graham.

Plan B for the 33-hour fundraiser says no audience and a mixture of live and pre-recorded entertainment. Even though it didn’t come as a surprise, the board was sad to announce that no spectators will be allowed at the building, but safety comes first, and they were still thrilled to be able to go forward with the 2020 Telethon.

Graham said they still will have great entertainment.

“Our entertainment group is working hard to have a lineup. We will have some pre-recorded entertainment, no doubt. But I think schools and teachers will get creative and maybe provide us an art parade or math challenges or science experiments. It’s really a creative year, no doubt. And we will have the entertainment to fill the Telethon period,” promised Graham.

Due to crowd restrictions, there won’t be large groups of entertainers with over six participants, and only up to 30 people will be able to be at the main hall at the same time, out of which about 20 board members and volunteers will working behind the scenes and the other 10 will be performers or people coming for interviews or to make a donation on behalf of their organization.

The volunteers will be monitoring the situation throughout the entire event.

The closing band is slated to perform live on Oct. 17, but Graham kept the name of the band a secret for now.

Because of the pre-recording addition, some of the performers may come from a greater distance. The full entertainment schedule will come out closer to the Telethon, but Graham is confident that it will be great.

“The entertainment committee was on fire. They showed great enthusiasm and working with the new restrictions to make it happen. Where there is a will, there is a way.”

The interviews with member agencies will also remain a part of the program and will be aired along with entertainment.

The United Way will also have a traditional raffle and a silent auction with a bit of a twist to their format.

The quilt for the raffle was donated by Hearts and Hands Quilting Guild and it’s on display at Henders Drugs, where people can also purchase tickets ahead of time. Tickets will also be available at the Legion the days of Telethon.

Graham said that the community members also already started donating homemade items and gift certificates for baking and other items for the silent auction. The items will be shown during the Telethon and pictures will also be posted on their website at unitedwayestevan.ca for online bidding. If people don’t have access to the Internet to participate in the auction, they will be able to place their bids over the phone.

“It’s going to be exciting to have all these items on display at Telethon not for people to truly be looking at but to get camera time and promote that these items are available to bid on,” said Graham.

Those who will prefer to make a donation in person will still be able to do so at the legion. A volunteer will be outside to ensure that the number of people inside the building remains within the allowed limit.

“It’s going to work out and the public will be able to come and make a donation in person,” said Graham.

She also pointed out that they received approval from the Government of Saskatchewan Business Response Centre and will be following the guidelines set out to them. There will be hand sanitizers available, and they will be regularly cleaning the high touch surfaces and bathrooms. Masks will be provided, and the arrows on the floor will direct the traffic.

“It’s going to look pretty different from what we are used to, but again, Telethon is going to happen,” said Graham. “It’s exciting. We’ll overcome the hurdle and be ready for the Telethon.”

If businesses are willing to host a fundraiser to benefit the United Way Estevan Telethon, they can call the office at 306-634-7375 or email their executive director Sheila Guenther at sheila@unitedwayestevan.com.

Graham noted a couple of fundraisers happening in the community. The first is the Estevan Mercury’s coupon book, with part proceeds going to the United Way. The books can be purchased at the Mercury office, at Henders or the A&W restaurant.

The other is the second annual Oil-a-Thon at the Great Canadian Oil Change on Oct. 1, when part proceeds from each oil change will go to the United Way.

The Mercury will have more details about plans for the 44th United Way Estevan Telethon in the weeks to come.

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