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Churches help with telethon in bid to keep doors open to Boys & Girls
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• WHAT: Boys & Girls Club Telethon
• WHEN: Monday, Nov, 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
• WHERE: Clubhouse at 545 W. Alameda carried live on Comcast Channel 97
• TO HELP: E-mail or call the club at 239-KIDS

Church groups are among the organizations stepping up to help the Boys & Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop during the 30th annual telethon Nov. 23-24.

Among the churches committed so far are Crossroads Grace Community Church, Manteca Christian Worship Center, the Place of Refuge and the Church of Latter-day Saints. The churches will provide volunteers to collect pledges and help man the phones, have a church minister serve as a guest host for an hour plus may have a youth group such as a choir perform as part of the televised entertainment over Comcast Cable 97.

“We love to have any church group to help the kids,” noted telethon chairman Steve DeBrum. “It’s great that the churches are showing their support for the children of the community.”

Daily attendance is up 50 percent over last year’s levels as more and more families squeezed by the weak economy use the club at 545 W. Alameda Street as a safe haven for their kids as they are no longer able to afford after school day care while their working.

At the same time, fundraising is down. It has been for the past year plus. The club has responded by reducing staff and cutting expenses wherever possible. The club’s executive director – Charlie Halford – has never drawn a full salary opting instead to take just half of his pay from the day he started over a year ago so staffing critical to supervising kids wouldn’t be cut further.

Now the club finds itself in a position where they must make some tough choices. All involve cutting staff that would trigger either the closing of the Lathrop site or cutting back on hours at the main club in Manteca.

The club’s financial situation is putting a greater emphasis on the telethon that takes place Nov. 23-24. It typically accounts for 30 percent of the revenue needed to run the clubs that serve 1,500 youngsters from ages 7 to 18. The telethon last year barely made more than $100,000. The club needs to generate $120,000 next month or else it has no choice to institute more cutbacks.

“We understand these are very tough times for people,” DeBrum said. “We are just asking people to look into their hearts and see if they can help in any way.”

Telethon organizers are hoping to secure more new smaller donors – anything from $10 and up – to help this year.

Other organizations committed to help so far include Delta National Bank, Del Webb at Woodbridge residents, Manteca Firefighters Association, Knights of Columbus, Manteca Rotary, Manteca dentists, Manteca Morning Rotary, Lathrop Rotary, Manteca Soroptimists, Manteca New Home Builders, Sunrise Kiwanis, Manteca Interact, Manteca Lions, Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau guides, AFLAC Insurance, Manteca Men’s Golf Club, Manteca Seniors Aiding Fire Effort, Manteca Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police, and Manteca Police Explorers.

Other groups have been contacted but have yet to confirm that they are able to help.

Club needs more help with telethon
The club is having a tough time securing enough volunteers through organizations or individuals to help with donations through the phone banks.

How it typically works is each person manning the phones comes in with donations already lined up or the contact numbers for enough people they know to generate $250 in an hour. Some use the strategy of asking 25 friends and relatives for $10 apiece while others ask 10 friends or relatives for $25 each. More often it is a combination of small donations with larger ones.

In an average year those people working the phones bring in between $30,000 and $40,000. With large donations expected to be down, the club needs to get even more smaller donations.

Individuals or organizations  interested in helping simply have to have their own phone list plus be able to man the phones for an hour block on either Monday, Nov. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., or Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4 to 9 p.m. The telethon on Comcast Channel 97 is carried live both days although the Tuesday hours are actually 4:30 to 11 p.m.

The balance of the money comes from larger donations as well as bids on silent and live auction items.

The club is also in need of auction items.

If you can help, contact Charlie Halford at or call the club at 239-KIDS.

There are nearly 1,500 members between two club  sites.

School year hours are 3 to 8 p.m. at the main site at 545 W. Alameda St. and 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lathrop School site. On school year holidays, the hours are 10 6 p.m.

The club offers homework assistance, computers for doing school work, and various character building programs. It also offers a variety of recreation games, sports leagues, arts classes, or simply a safe place to spend time with friends.

For more information, call the club at 239-KIDS.