Last night, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Mon Sheong Foundation at their annual telethon event. Every year, Fairchild TV broadcasts a program that “enables the public to learn more about Mon Sheong’s efforts in long-term care services, community service and promotion of Chinese culture, as well as Mon Sheong’s future developments”. It showcased ten resident stories as well as live interviews. Through the live TV program, all the volunteers sat in the back and answered the calls that came in through the donation hotline.
It was my first time volunteering for a telethon and I was both very excited and nervous to be handling quite a big responsibility. I arrived at the Fairchild TV station building at 7 p.m. and the group of volunteers and I were debriefed on how the night would go. Each of us was responsible for answering the telephone that was at our station. We had a sheet of paper in front of us that told us general information and inquiries and also a stack of forms for us to fill in the information for the person that would be donating. We had to make sure we filled in the donation sheet correctly with the donor’s name, phone number, address, credit card information, whether they wanted an official receipt of their donation, whether they wanted their name to be displayed on the rolling text on the TV screen, and of course their donation amount as well! We were briefed very quickly on this, and as soon as we had our red Mon Sheong volunteer T-shirts on, we were ushered into the room.
The room was chilly but we were assured that once the big lights for the filming went on, we would be at a comfortable temperature. We got seated and sheets of paper were handed out to each of us for us to record the donor information. We learned how to “pretend” to be on the phone by having the phone in our hand and pressing down the tone button since once we were on the air, we needed to look like we were actually talking on the phone. Lol. This was actually really funny.
At 8:10 p.m. or so, we were live on the air. We were all really nervous. Most of us in the room were first-time volunteers at the telethon so we were super nervous and afraid that we would mess things up. We heard various phones ring at the other stations so we knew it had started. Before long, the telephone at my station rang and I picked it up and quickly said “Mon Sheong Donation Hotline”. My first call went through pretty smoothly for the most part except that I had to ask the lady on the other line to repeat her name several times since her first and last name were spelled very similarly.
We were live on the air each time for no more than 10 minutes. After each live segment, they returned to a resident story, so that was when we could breathe easily and not have to “pretend” to be on the phone if we weren’t actually talking to a real person. It was funny during one moment when, just as I was going to pick up the phone to “pretend”, the moment I touched the phone, it actually rang for real! Haha, it was perfect timing.
The whole night went on, interspersing between a live segment where we were in the background and the resident stories. The time went by super fast and before I knew it, it was already 9:30 p.m., and then 10 p.m., and then 10:40 p.m. was when it all finished. All in all, I got at least 10 calls that night and I noticed that most of the callers lived in apartments. One caller was from Richmond in British Columbia, and one was from an 80-year-old lady who wouldn’t stop talking lol. She told me how she was a long-time sponsor of Mon Sheong and that she had a few favourite hosts of the TV shows… not really relevant, but I nodded to be polite and acknowledged what she said. She asked for my name and thanked me for my time volunteering for the telethon too. What a sweet lady! I finally got her off the phone after trying to say good night several times lol.
During the whole telethon, we managed to raise a grand total of $188,000! That’s a record! Here is the media release for what we accomplished that night. 🙂
I had a really good and fun experience volunteering my time at the MS telethon. It was certainly a unique experience and I’ve never actually been on live TV for such an extended period of time. My mom told me later that she was watching the live programming and spotted me on air. Haha. She even tried to record the segments that she saw me, but unfortunately, because we’ve just moved in and haven’t set up our recording for the TV yet, it didn’t work out. I was also able to see how live TV works and watch how all the crews set up the layout of the interviews. The crew had to make sure everything was perfect. One of the ladies that was speaking on air had to remove a belt that she was wearing, close up her jacket to appear thinner, remove her necklace because it was too shiny and interfered with the lighting, and more. They adjusted the cushions on the couch, everyone sat with their legs sideways, and when they taped the final “thank you” segment, they did 9 takes to get it right. We all chimed in at the last “thank you” too. It was fun. We all clapped and applauded once the director was happy with the final cut of the thank you segment. Woohoo! I really enjoyed this experience and have such a greater appreciation for live TV and the people who work at telethons now. 🙂