United Way Estevan is gearing up for the telethon

The United Way Estevan starts having weekly Wednesday meetings on Sept. 11 in order to make sure that everything is set and ready for their main fundraiser of the year.

The 42nd annual telethon will run from 8 a.m. on Oct. 18 until 5 p.m. on Oct. 19. This will give the organizers and performers a full 33 hours to generate funds that later will be used to support the United Way Estevan’s 15 member agencies in the Estevan area.

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The main work is still ahead, but some committees have already started lining things up.

“Our entertainment committee is starting to line up some acts and getting a schedule all sorted out, which is a very, very big job that they are handling wonderfully,” said Becca Foord, who is this year’s United Way Estevan board president.

The board set the 2019 telethon goal at $340,000 which is $5,000 more than the last year’s target number, but over $30,000 less than what was actually raised through the telethon in 2018.

This years’ theme is Give Where You Live.

“It’s just a focus on shopping local. There is always a push for things to stay local. And it’s just a reminder to our community that to give where you live (means) that the money that you give to the United Way and to the United Way Telethon stay in the community,” said Foord.

The organization has been preparing for the show, but the first meeting is when everything really starts to get going. And at this stage, the United Way Estevan still needs a lot of things starting with food for telethon volunteers. 

“All volunteers and our board members usually get fed every single meal. There is a number of places in town that graciously sponsor food for us every single year. Most restaurants in town bring us some food of some sort throughout those 33 hours so we stay fed. If anybody … wants to donate food we would be more than happy to take it. You never leave telethon as a volunteer hungry, that’s for sure,” said Foord.

Besides the food, the organization is also looking into gathering some donations for the bid item table.

“As long as the item is handmade you can donate to it. You cannot go to the store and buy something from the store. It has to be actually something that you’ve created,” said Foord. “We really take pride on that, because there is a lot of community members who are very, very talented and that’s how they choose to give to the United Way, by donating those handmade items.”

All donations get put up for a silent auction. And the money, raised from the bid items go towards the telethon total.

United Way Estevan is also looking for volunteers.

“We always need help from people running the cameras and answering phones. Just general stuff for the weekend of telethon. There is always lots to do, and there is always room for somebody if they are new to town and want to meet some people and want to come volunteer, by all means, it’s a wonderful place to meet people,” said Foord, adding that that’s a great way to spend a weekend and give back to the community, too.

The entertainment committee hopes to get many of the same groups to perform again this year. Foord said this group has been a part of the telethon for many years. But in general, they are trying to keep a good balance between repeating and new performers.

"We are going to try to get the school groups to come during Friday afternoon to come and perform for us, which is great because we get grandparents and parents to come in. I know there is a lot of dance numbers and singing numbers for entertainment that are our regulars. We are trying to keep things the same because a lot of people want to keep coming back.  And we’ll never say no to people who want to come back, and we’ll never say no to new people who want to come and try to entertain. If you know a good joke or know how to sing, or play guitar, by no means will we turn anybody away,” said Foord.

In the next few weeks, the members will start handing out business kits to local organizations, so people will see posters and a little bit more advertising put up around town to promote the telethon. 

Social media will also be used to advertise the event.

“We have our Facebook page that we’ve been advertising about our telethon and some various other things. So we will be doing lots of advertising just to promote the weekend and the event that we are holding,” said Foord.

If someone wants to volunteer they can call the United Way Estevan at 306-634-7375.

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