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Telethons new twist: On-line & cell phone bidding
Joann Tilton tries out the new on-line bidding that is part of this year’s Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club Telethon as Fred White of DeCristo Productions looks on. - photo by DENNIS WYATT


• WHAT: 26th annual Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club Telethon
• WHEN: Monday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. & Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
• WHERE: 545 W. Alameda and on Comcast Cable TV 97

High-tech is converting the 26th annual Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club Telethon into a more personal experience for people who bid and pledge each year.

The club is rolling out on-line as well as cell phone text bidding for the live and silent auctions.

“It’s like having e-Bay and the Home Shopping Network meshed together,” noted Fred White of DeCristo productions.

White designed the new system that will allow people to make real-time bids. Each time a bid is made it is instantaneously sent in text form to all of those individuals who are interested in the item.

Joann Tilton, who has volunteered with the telethon for 15 years, said she thinks it will bring a lot more “fun” to the process for bidders.

People will be able to register on-line or via cell phone or by dropping by the club where there will be six kiosks available for them to set up accounts. There will be trained volunteers on hand to assist them.

Even those just interested in the silent auction will have a different experience. Instead of just writing down bids on sheets, they will be registered at a computer kiosk and given bar code based on the information they provide for the bidding process. That is then placed on a bidding pamphlet that allows the use of scanners to make bids on items.

Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Charlie Halford noted that those people who are comfortable with the old process of calling in bids while watching on TV are still able to do so.

The club’s goal this year is $120,000.

The two-day event is the major fundraiser for the club that serves more than 1,500 youth in Manteca and Lathrop.

It takes more than 400 volunteers to stage the event each year from entertainers and volunteers working the pledge phones to camera crews and those soliciting bid items.

Among the groups that Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters has lined up to work the pledge phones so far this year are the Christian Worship Center, Crossroads Grace Community Church, Church of Latter-day Saints, Manteca Soroptimists, DCS, Lathrop Chamber, Del Webb at Woodbridge residents, Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police, Seniors Aiding Fire Effort, Manteca Interact, the Building Industry of the Delta, Sunrise Kiwanis, Manteca Rotary, the Manteca banking industry, Manteca High JROTC, Manteca Youth Focus, Lathrop Rotary, Manteca city leaders, Knights of Columbus, and others.

The groups and individuals that help man phones and collect pledges typically secure $10 and $20 donations - plus others that go as high as $100 - to account for the bulk of the $100,000 plus the telethon generates each year.
If you would like to help with the phones and pledge collecting contact Waters at 456-8300.

This year’s telethon is taking place Monday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 4:30 to 11 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 97. This is the first time in 26 years the telethon is not taking place the week of Thanksgiving.

Halford noted the switch to an earlier date is in response to community changes. Manteca Unified schools in the last several years have scheduled the entire week off prompting many people to plan family vacations. Also a growing number of employers - including the City of Manteca and high-tech firms - are furloughing workers that week which in turn prompts many who have helped volunteer in the past to schedule other things.

For those who wish to help secure auction items or help with other aspects of the telethon contact the Boys & Girls Club at 239-KIDS.