Virtual telethon helps Salvation Army in Savannah raise nearly $107,000

The Salvation Army of Savannah celebrated 120 years of service to the coastal Georgia city by raising $53,468 through monetary donations and an online auction at its first-ever virtual fundraiser, the Ambassador’s Ball.

That giving, matched dollar for dollar by the generosity of an anonymous donor, meant a total of $106,936 raised to support community programs and services. The goal had been to raise at least $50,000 to offset the costs of the Army’s response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus forced the annual fund raiser, traditionally a formal dinner, to go a decidedly nontraditional route. The Salvation Army partnered with the local NBC affiliate, WSAV-TV, on Tuesday evening, Aug. 25, to stage an on-air telethon and variety show with the musical talent of local artists.

“We are extremely grateful to all who worked hard to make this event happen, and to all of the viewers and donors who joined our first virtual event and made it an entertaining and impactful night,” said Major Paul Egan, Savannah corps officer.

“We remain thankful to our volunteers, staff and countless supporters who make our mission possible and allow us to do the most good in our community,” Egan said.

During the worst of the pandemic, the Army expanded its emergency shelter, provided kids’ meals at its community center, delivered meals to residents through its canteens, distributed refreshments to first responders, supported children in its shelter with online learning and more. There also was an immediate and sizeable surge in requests for food, clothing, rent and utilities assistance.

Marc Hefner, vice president and general manager of Nexstar’s WSAV, said, “We know how much The Salvation Army continues to do for our community, and demands on this non-profit organization continue to be extremely high due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WSAV is committed to supporting people in the greater Savannah community, and when we were invited to partner with The Salvation Army to transform their annual fundraiser – the Ambassador’s Ball – into a virtual telethon, we were happy to donate our time and expertise to make it a reality.”