Again this year hearts and wallets were opened to the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre Shaw Share-a-Smile Telethon.
When the final figures were tallied at the end of the 36th annual event, including the online auction, the numbers came in at over $50,000.
“It went so well today, better than we could have hoped,” said a tired but happy executive director Manisha Willms after the studio lights dimmed. “We had so many volunteers that fed people, took donations, processed donations, ran the auction and we exceeded our expectations and couldn’t be more pleased.
“To get $50,000 will make a huge difference to not only the programming and the number of kids we can serve but the quality of materials we have to do our work.”
During the show, which was broadcast live on Shaw and streamed online, viewers had an opportunity to see exactly what kinds of services are provided to young clients and their families from Princeton to Summerland.
Among those people was radio personality Mare McHale who hosted the telethon with Randy Farmer.
Mare’s son Thomas has received help at the centre since last year and has already shown dramatic improvement.
“It’s just so encouraging to see how far he’s come and how far he’s going to go,” said Mare previously. “Without them (OSNS) now we would be absolutely lost.”
The not-for-profit organization provides individualized, integrated services for children with developmental needs and includes therapeutic, developmental services to over 700 kids annually.
Prior to the telethon Willms was reluctant to set a goal, saying instead how important every dollar received during their largest fundraising event of the year is.
“Every donation puts us ahead of the game and what was amazing is the number of people who were calling in with donations from $10 to $500 to $1,000. They all matter and they’re all equal, especially when people are doing what they can to help,” she said. “We have over 100 children on the waiting list which is not right and all of this money will go a long ways to alleviating that.”
About 90 businesses this year donated gifts for the raffle which brought in over $10,000.
One of the largest single donations came from Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. whose staff members also manned the telephones to accept donations.
Longtime supporters of the OSNS, Gateway promised to match each dollar raised by the team during their time on the phones.
They were able to collect $3,385 but in the end Gateway decided to top that up by an additional $5,000 for a total of $8,385.
“The OSNS does such great work within our community which is why we choose to help as much as we can,” said Jerry Pokorny, Gateway executive general manager.
The telethon is the largest single fundraiser for the centre each year and is a critical part of getting the necessary dollars to meet its operating budget.