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Echo Press file photo by Al Edenloff One of last year's performers at the Jingle Bells Telethon was Eva Kimball of Alexandria.

Jingle Bells telethon celebrates 60 years

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The ring-a-ling, linging of telephones will hopefully be heard this Saturday during the 60th annual Jingle Bells Telethon.

The annual telethon will take place at Lake Geneva Christian Center December 12 from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

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Ed Smith, KSAX-TV station manager, said the telethon, which showcases more than 30 different acts, will broadcast the entire time on local channel 42, cable channel 5 and Selective TV channel 14.

The Jingle Bells telethon will bypass regularly scheduled programs throughout KSAX's whole broadcast area during the four and a half hour time period, noted Smith.

In addition, it will be broadcast live on KSAX's website, www.ksax.com.

ABC will return at 10 p.m. for the news and its regular programming.

Here's what you need to know about Jingle Bells

Q: What is Jingle Bells?

A: It's a live, on-air telethon that features various acts of entertainment that raises money to buy food and toys for families in need during the holiday season. It is sponsored by the Alexandria Jaycees.

Q: Who will emcee this year's event?

A: Because it is the 60th anniversary of the Jingle Bells telethon, the Jaycees will bring back former members to help with hosting, including Elroy Frank and Owen Miller, who are both members of the Alexandria City Council, along with Jerry VanKempen, who was a host of the telethon for more than 40 years.

Other emcees include KSAX-TV anchors, Emily Beem and Mark Anthony; Minnesota State Jaycee President Jason Gadd; Alexandria Jaycee President Nicole Klimek; Jingle Bells co-chair Alicia Klimek; and radio personalities, Tom E. Lee from Z99 and Dennis Anhalt from KXRA.

Joe Korkowski, Jaycee member who works at KXRA, will also help with emceeing.

Korkowski said there will probably be a few other Jaycee members who will make cameo appearances.

Q: How and where do I make monetary donations?

A: Donations can be made all year long, not just during the show, by sending a check to Jingle Bells Foundation, P.O. Box 131, Alexandria, MN 56308. Donations can also be made the night of the telethon by calling between the hours of 5:30 and 10 p.m. toll free to 1-888-224-9599. This number will only work during the telethon. Donations can also be made via the Jaycees' website at www.alexjaycees.com. Click on the Jingle Bells icon on the left side of the page and then follow the directions.

Q: Can I make a donation on air during the show?

A: Yes. Those who wish to make a donation in person can do so by going to the Lake Geneva Christian Center the night of the telethon. Groups or individuals who have raised money can appear live during the show to make a donation. There is no need to call ahead, just show up. On-air donations will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: What is my donation used for?

A: The majority of donations are used to purchase food and toy baskets for families during the holiday season. During the rest of the year, other donations are made to area food shelves and individuals in need.

Q: How many food and toy baskets are delivered each year?

A: Each year, more and more families are helped by the Jingle Bells Telethon. Last year, about 1,050 baskets were delivered the day after the telethon. More than $138,000 was raised during the event.

Q: Can I help deliver baskets?

Yes. Numerous volunteers are needed each year to help box up and deliver the baskets. Those wishing to help should be at H. Boyd Nelson, 3800 Minnesota Street in Alexandria, at 9 a.m. Sunday, December 13. There are usually enough people on hand to help load the boxes each year, but organizers noted they are always looking for people who are willing to do the delivering of the baskets. Baskets are usually delivered within a 60 to 70 mile radius. If willing to help with the delivery, be at H. Boyd Nelson Sunday around 9 a.m.

Q: How are the toy and food basket recipients chosen?

A: The Jaycees use recommendations from area churches, Social Services, and requests are made from the public as well. Requests can also be made on the Jaycees' website. For this year, no more requests are being taken as they have all been filled. The Jaycees will help families in need throughout the year if certain criteria are met, such as sudden illness, death in the family or other tragic event. Contact the Jaycees by phone at (320) 834-3030 or by e-mail at contact@AlexJaycees.com.

Q: How can I become a member of the Jaycees?

A: Attend a general meeting, which is held the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum meeting room. Members must be between the ages of 21 and 40. For more information, visit the Jaycees' website at www.alexjaycees.com, call (320) 834-3030 or send an e-mail to contact@AlexJaycees.com.

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