The generosity of Calgarians was not dampened by the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.
Despite having “a different feel about it,” Global News Radio 770 CHQR’s Pledge Day raised more than $283,000.
Last year’s total was $240,000, going to 17 local organizations and a focus on mental health supports for children.
“It’s nothing short of fantastic,” Calgary Children’s Foundation (CCF) chair John Vos said Friday evening.
A pair of “power hours” that had matching donations helped the annual CCF fundraiser.
“I’m humbled by how generous people are — generous at a time when you wouldn’t think they would be,” Vos said.
Due to provincial health orders restricting gatherings indoors, the usual bank of telephones were not ringing in the background of the broadcast. And the musical entertainment was not be performed in-person.
Instead, organizers arranged to have operators physically-distanced from each other, and on-air staff and musical performances will be done remotely.
It was the first time in the event’s more than 45 years to have all of the stakeholders and supporters apart, rather than together.
Friday’s fundraiser included visits from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and country music star Paul Brandt.
Friday morning, Mayor Nenshi acknowledged the tough times Calgarians are living through right now, in addition to the pandemic.
“Times are tough for so many of our neighbors and those of us who can afford to give we need to dig just a little bit deeper and give just a little bit more,” the mayor said. “The need is so great.”
“This is a way for us to feel like we’re together, even if we’re not physically together.”
When the total raised was just more than half the final tally, Kenney was impressed by the generosity.
“It just really reflects the soul of our province,” Kenney said. “I just love the lineup of charities here that you’re supporting through the Calgary Children’s Foundation.”
Pledge Day listeners heard from organizations like the Distress Centre’s ConnecTeen program, Hospice Calgary’s Children’s Grief Centre and the Calgary Counselling Centre.
And smaller groups like GRIT Calgary Society, Ability 4 Good and Ups and Downs Society shared stories from some of their program participants and parents.
“These are not big organizations with a lot of overhead and all that jazz,” Kenney said. “These are real grassroots volunteer-run organizations where the money goes really to help especially young people in need right now.”
CCF administrator Betty Jo Kaiser was “completely blown away” by the large sum of donations and had a message for child-oriented groups who are looking for more funding in 2021.
“We will have an opportunity to receive applications from small charities in the Calgary area,” Kaiser said. “Watch the CCF website in late January for updated application forms.”
“This money we raised today, we’ll be pushing out in 2021.”
Donations can continue to be made on the Calgary Children’s Foundation website.