Sunday’s Shaw Share-a-Smile telethon for the OSNS Child Development Centre raised more than $42,000 which executive director Manisha Willms described as a heart-felt outpouring of community support.
“I think for me being new in the South Okanagan it’s just been such a complete pleasant surprise just how invested the community is in what we do,” said Willms who was overseeing her first telethon.
“I’m absolutely thrilled.
“We had a new format this year, a new coordinator, we had an online feature and a silent auction and we really weren’t sure how that was going to go but everyone came through again and we just couldn’t be more pleased with the total.
“The telethon also gave me knowledge about organizations that have traditionally supported us for a very very long time, like the Summerland Health Care Auxiliary who gave a $10,000 donation.
“It’s people like that who go quietly about their work all year and put it towards our charity.”
Along with the annual raffle for a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the telethon is one of the critical fundraising efforts that keeps the centre in business.
While most of the money for the non-profit agency comes from the government, at the end of the fiscal year, there is generally a shortfall of several hundred thousand dollars.
Services (including mobile outreach programs) are available to clients in the South Okanagan and Similkameen and include everything from physical to psychiatric assistance.
Willms also expressed her appreciation to the many people who helped Sunday at the centre.
“Just the volunteerism and the spirit of support that was around the centre all weekend was fantastic,” she said.
“At one point there must have been over 200 people in the building just working and making it happen.”
She also offered a big thank you to Wayne McDougall and Shaw for making the event possible.
A pair of celebrity personalities took over the MC duties this year, Dennis Walker from Socountry.ca Internet radio and Global Okanagan’s Toby Tannas.
CHBC’s Mike Roberts had for many years been the face of the annual fundraiser.
“There’s always big shoes to fill when Mike Roberts is involved, especially in an event that he has been with for so long, but I think if you just focus on why we’re here I can’t mess things up too badly,” said Tannas. “What I’m excited about is that because it’s (centre) been functioning for so long we can actually see these alumni, these people in their 20s who are a product of this, so the proof is in the pudding.”
She especially enjoyed meeting some of the younger children during the session.
“Overall I’m just really happy to be here and I hope I’m going to be able to do it for the next 20 years,” she said.
There is still time for people wishing to donate by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, in person at the centre, #103 – 550 Carmi Ave. or by calling 250-492-0295 or toll free 1-866-492-0295.