Our Towns

Telethon Raises $65K for Hurricane Relief Efforts

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A telethon broadcast last night by WKBN and four other local television stations operated by Nexstar Media Group raised more than $65,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The total raised includes $40,000 in matching funds pledged by four local businesses, said David Coy, general manager of the five Nexstar stations. Covelli Enterprises, Boak and Sons Inc., Vallourec Star and Braking Point Recovery Center each offered $10,000 to match donations pledged during the telethon.

The response was “overwhelming,” Coy said.

On several occasions, the volume of calls crashed the telethon phone lines and the stations’ phone system.

The stations – WKBN, WYTV, WYFX, MyYTV and WTYV-DT – all showed station personnel during commercial breaks urging viewers to call to donate or click on links to the American Red Cross. The phone number for the telethon also was featured on a crawl across the bottom of TV screens.

Volunteers answering the phones included local employees of Vallourec. The operator of pipe and threading mills in Youngstown, has its North American headquarters in Houston, which has seen catastrophic levels of flooding due to the storm.

“This is our small part to do something for our friends and colleagues,” Vallourec spokeswoman Jean Gaetano said.

About 10 members of Vallourec’s offices in Youngstown – which include Vallourec Star, VAM USA and Vallourec USA Corp. – staffed the phone bank and took pledges for the American Red Cross’s relief efforts.

Nearly all of the Vallourec’s 1,000 employees in its eight locations in the Houston metropolitan area were impacted in some way, with many experiencing flooding or other water-related issues, and several were evacuated, she said.

“It is a heartbreaking situation,” she remarked. “The positive story out of the tragedy is the kindness and humanity our colleagues are giving and receiving.  People are reaching out to their families, neighbors and strangers to lend a hand or provide a place to stay; going to shelters and churches to cook or hand out clothes.”

Mitch Davis, news director for the Nexstar group, applauded the community response. “People were overwhelmingly opening their hearts and giving to people in need,” he said. “I knew we would see that response. I didn’t expect to see that level of response.”

Coy praised the leadership of Covelli Enterprises and its CEO, Sam Covelli, who made the initial offer of $10,000 in matching funds. That was followed by the three other companies each pledging $10,000.

The total does not include donations raised through links to the Red Cross’ website link, he noted.

Meanwhile, Covelli Enterprises, which is Panera Bread’s largest franchisee, plans to launch a campaign – possibly as soon as this weekend – to raise funds for Harvey relief efforts.

Through the “Chip in for Houston” campaign, Panera restaurants in the seven states where Covelli operates them — Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia — will sell chocolate chip cookies. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation, said Covelli spokeswoman Ashlee Mauti.

Covelli-owned Panera cafes also are switching their “community bread box” donation containers at their cash registers over to hurricane relief for the month of September, Mauti said.

Pictured at top: Volunteers answer calls during the WKBN telethon. Photo courtesy WKBN.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.