The United Way Estevan closed its 37th annual fundraising telethon with its third-best off air total ever, but it still wasn't enough for the organization to reach its goal.
The telethon closed with a total $336,098, which was about $14,000 short of its goal of $350,000. It's the first time ever that the United Way hasn't reached its goal during the telethon.
But they haven't given up on the $350,000 total. They now want to reach the figure by Friday, which would likely still allow them to be the first in Canada to reach their goal, according to president Dawn Schell.
“We're going to get to that $350,000 by Friday,” president Dawn Schell said adamantly moments after the telethon concluded on Saturday evening. “That's what the board has said we're going to do.”
Estevan has been the first in Canada to eclipse its goal 35 times in the last 36 years.
Schell said they were going to do whatever it takes to reach their goal.
The telethon opened at 8 a.m. on Friday morning, and the fundraising had a strong start, as they had raised more than $50,000 by 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The figure was up to $86,000 by midnight.
The total inched closer to the goal on Saturday morning and afternoon, as they were at nearly $107,000 on Saturday at 1 p.m. Donations of more than $106,000 from SaskPower and $90,000 from Sherritt Coal brought the total to above the $311,000 mark with a couple hours to go.
The SaskPower and Sherritt Coal donations came through payroll deductions and fundraisers among the staff. The corporations then matched all or part of the totals.
A frantic final hour raised about $20,000, and the phones were ringing constantly, but the United Way still didn't reach the goal.
Money raised during and after the telethon will be directed towards the local United Way's 18 member agencies and three community projects.
“All of that money is still going to get used, and put to good use,” Schell said.
School children occupied the bulk of the entertainment slots during the telethon's first seven hours. Once the schools were finished, singers, dancers and instrumentalists of all ages from the Estevan area provided entertainment until 5 p.m. on Saturday evening.
“We had such a wide range of entertainment this year,” said Schell. “It was great to see. We had different cultures come and participate and be part of our event, which is something that we really haven't had. And it was great.”
The Sikh Society of Estevan packed the venue as they not only danced, but taught some of their techniques to United Way board members and volunteers. The Third Town Band, which is a group of Filipinos who sing cover tunes and reggae music, were also part of the telethon.
A lot of young children participated this year, Schell said, and those young children will one day be leaders of the community, and they will one day be supporters of the telethon.
Schell said she's still pleased with what has been accomplished thus far.
People who haven't donated to the telethon are encouraged to do so in the next few days.
The entire event was held at the Estevan Royal Canadian Legion, and it was broadcast live on Access Communications. The theme was “I am the Way.”
Please visit www.sasklifestyles.com later in the week for more on this story.