ESTEVAN - The United Way Estevan hopes its upcoming telethon can be as close to normal as possible this year.
The organization will start holding weekly meetings in advance of the 45th annual fundraiser on Sept. 1, with the 33-hour telethon itself taking place on Oct. 15 and 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch.
Danny Ewen, who is the president of the United Way this year, said summer is typically a quieter time for the United Way’s board, but the weekly meetings represent the point in which the board really starts to work hard on the telethon.
This year’s goal is $345,000, which is up from the goal of $325,000 a year ago.
“We chose that goal because it is our 45th year for the telethon here in Estevan. It seemed like an appropriate number. Estevan is such a generous community from the business side to the individuals, all over the place, including the surrounding rurals.
“It’s something where we feel like we’re going to challenge our community to once again reach that number, because organizations here in Estevan need it more than ever.”
Not only do they hope to reach the goal, they also hope to exceed that objective. The proceeds from the telethon will go to the United Way’s member agencies and community partners.
The United Way has eclipsed the $345,000 figure the last few years, including last year, when it went off air with a total of $347,711.
“It’s something that we knew we can achieve and I think it’s something that we’ll want to be able to say, right till the very end of our telethon, to keep those donations coming in, so that we can raise as much money as possible for our member agencies,” said Ewen.
The theme for this year is TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More.
While the telethon is about a month and a half away, there are a couple of needs that Ewen believes need to be met now. One would be entertainment. Last year’s show featured a blend between live entertainers and pre-recorded performers.
Ewen said they can use anything from an individual to a group. The entertainment plays such a pivotal role in filling the 33-hour broadcast and raising the much-needed funds.
The virtual entertainment went over well last year, Ewen said, as it allowed them to have a little more variety throughout the telethon, and they had acts that wouldn’t have been able to perform otherwise.
If someone wants to entertain, they can reach out to a member of the board of directors.
“Of course, you can donate any time, or maybe think of some neat ideas that you and your friends or family could get involved in, and help raise some money before our telethon begins,” he said.
He hopes the community is already starting to get excited, and will think of ways to make the show a success.
The other thing they need now is hand-crafted merchandise for the bid items table. Last year they had 81 items, and bidding started several days prior to the telethon.
“Melanie Graham is the one who spearheads our bid items every single year. Last year with the restrictions we moved it to an online auction that started a week before the telethon and ended during the telethon. And it was such a great success. We had more items, and we brought in significantly more money through our bid items.”
Any submissions for the bid item table have to be homemade or hand-crafted.
Ewen said they want to have a regular telethon, similar to what they had in 2019 and previous years, ranging from additional live entertainment to having people in the hall for the telethon.
“We’ll be keeping an eye on the cases and the mandate from the provincial government along the way. We are anticipating a normal telethon, with no restrictions along the way,” said Ewen. “But that is something that could change at any time. We’re keeping an eye on it.”