Masset telethon raises more than $21,000!

  • Nov. 28, 2011 5:00 a.m.

by Ashlee Morgan–It’s the type of outcome that inspires a community.Through donations and auction bids last Saturday, Masset and Old Massett managed to raise $21,300 during the 33rd annual Masset-Haida Lions Club Telethon. Telethon Co-Chair Bret Johnston said “I’m not surprised. It seems the worse things get (in terms of the economy), the more people in this community give.” The telethon is no easy task to organize and run each year. A team of Lions Club members, along with volunteers from the community come together to raise money for the local hospital and Vancouver’s Easter Seal House. On Saturday, organizers met at the Howard Philips Community Hall just after 8 am to get early preparations underway. By 10 am the auction was in full swing as phone lines opened up and the broadcast began on MHTV. Mr. Johnston said items up for auction were still very low just days before the telethon, but in the end and even on the day of, community members donated over 200 items valued at over $20,000. Lions president Dave Smith said “if there’s one thing we can depend on, it’s this community. We try and be there for them as much as we can, and they try and be there for us.” There were three major sources of donation dollars this year. The raffle for two iPods completely sold out garnering $1,000, a trip for two from Pacific Coastal to Vancouver went for $1,400 and Old Massett resident Wendell Williams once again made his trek on foot from Masset to Port Clements and back raising $1,500 in donations. Mr. Williams’ walk finished up with a parade of vehicles and sirens leading him to the hall at 10:40 pm Saturday. Meantime inside the hall, volunteers took shifts on three phone lines. There were eight items rotating on the big board for auction, with eight different timers all going at once. This was complemented by two MCs on stage describing the items up for auction and informing viewers of the value. All of this was broadcast through four different cameras over MHTV as viewers bid from home. Lions member Kevin LaGroix was at the switchboard making it all happen for viewers. “This is my 15th telethon,” he said. Also busy during this time was Mary Isaacs, who’s been with the Lions Club in Masset for seven years. “I moved to Masset and joined the Lions Club within the first month of being here!” Mrs. Isaacs has run the auction desk for five years. It’s the table directly across from the phone lines where bids come in and are delivered to the big board. “This community never ceases to amaze me. People just keep giving and giving,” she said. Mrs. Isaacs said the auction desk usually gets busier as the day progresses, “bigger ticket items go up later-on in the telethon to build excitement.” She said volunteers keep energy levels up by eating well, which is another aspect of the telethon in itself. As you near the back room of the hall, the smell of home-cooked food fills the air. Once you step inside the room, a lineup of crockpots and sweet treats surrounds tables of volunteers getting their fill. The food and drink is provided by Lions Club members and the community; and it’s no easy task to feed the steady stream of volunteers for almost 24 hours. Mrs. Isaacs said “the community came out in full force again this year.” The kitchen is just one of eight sections chaired by Lions Club members, which also includes security, entertainment and the stats desk, plus an overall telethon chair. This year the telethon was co-chaired by club president Dave Smith along with Bret Johnston. Mr. Smith said “Bret has been my mentor. He knows how the system works and I’m learning a lot. Joining the Lions is the best thing I’ve ever done.” As the time on the remaining auction items ticked down and the final dollars were tallied, the telethon wrapped up around 1am at the hall. Organizers are pleased with yet another successful event, raising more than the average of $20,000.

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