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Community spirit keeps Jingle Bells alive

This year's telethon will be Saturday, December 8 from 5 to 10 p.m. (Echo Press photo)

Program changes after KSAX closed its doors earlier this year had folks concerned about a silent night during the annual Jingle Bells telethon in Alexandria. But the show must and will go on thanks to community support.

A collaboration with Selective TV, Gardonville Telephone Cooperative and Excellent Multimedia, Inc. has provided a platform for the talent. The broadcast will cover an approximate 60-mile radius around Alexandria.

"We realize it's a loss to not have KSAX anymore," said Alexandria Jaycee Public Relations Representative Mike Schreiner. "We believe that overall this is a positive change for Jingle Bells as it provides new opportunities and has also developed new partnerships."

Jingle Bells debuted on KXRA Radio in 1949. The talent show and fundraiser, hosted by the Alexandria Jaycees, has been televised since 1958.

Jaycees use pledge money to purchase food and toys for holiday gift baskets. The baskets are delivered to families in need around the Alexandria area. Funds also cover telethon costs.

Schreiner, like many Alexandrians, grew up watching Jingle Bells. He has been an Alexandria Jaycee member since 2003.

"It's not only Jaycee members that make Jingle Bells happen," Schreiner said. "It takes the Alexandria community - and beyond - to make this program a success each year."

Originally, the telethon focused on food but toy donations have increased in recent years. Each year toys are collected at businesses throughout Alexandria.

Although basket requests and toy drops are now closed, donations are still welcome. Families wishing to receive a basket next year can request one online in the weeks leading up to the Jingle Bells telethon.

The 64th Jingle Bells telethon will be held on Saturday, December 8 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Lake Geneva Christian Center, 605 Birch Avenue in Alexandria.

The program can be viewed this year on Selective TV (channel 21.4), Gardonville TV (channel 4 LALA), Charter cable (channel 7) or online at www.jinglebellsalexandria.org.

Schreiner said people who cannot view the program on any of the stations or online can come to the Geneva Christian Center and view the telethon live. During the telethon viewers can call (320) 762-1216 with donations.

Following the telethon on Sunday, December 9, volunteers will prepare and deliver baskets. People interested in volunteering are invited to H. Boyd Nelson, 3800 Minnesota Street in Alexandria, at 9 a.m. Sunday to help package deliveries. Delivery routes will be assigned and vehicles will be loaded around 10 a.m.

For more information, call (320) 834-3030 or visit www.jinglebellsalexandria.org.

JINGLE JANGLE

Over the years Jingle Bells has provided holiday cheer for families in need. The joy continues to grow as the donation dollars increase.

$500 was raised during the first year in 1949.

$115,000 was raised in 2011.

$2 million in food and toy donations have been raised to date.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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