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Jingle Bells volunteers at a past telethon answered phones during the broadcast. (Contributed photo)

Jingle Bells will still jingle this year

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The show will go on - even though the TV station that was broadcasting it has ceased operations.

The annual Jingle Bells telethon, hosted by the Alexandria Jaycees, is a tradition that has positively impacted families in the Alexandria area for more than 60 years.

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It's helped those who receive food and toys during the holiday season when they have little means to provide basic necessities for their families. It's also a highly anticipated event for those who give their time and talents to make the project a huge success year after year.

With recent news of KSAX discontinuing its operations in Alexandria, many were wondering what was going to happen with the future of Jingle Bells.

In a recent meeting between KSAX Station Manager Ed Smith and the Jingle Bells co-chairs, it was confirmed KSAX would no longer be able to televise the program, according to the Jaycees.

"The announcement of KSAX ceasing operations is certainly difficult for everyone to swallow," said Mike Schreiner, public relations vice president for the Alexandria Jaycees. "The Jaycees know this was a very difficult decision for Hubbard Broadcasting [the station owners] and KSAX to make."

The Jaycees, Schreiner added, want to ensure the residents of Alexandria and surrounding areas that "the show will go on."

"There will be a Jingle Bells program in 2012," he said. "At this point, the Jaycees do not know exactly how that show will be delivered to the public.

According to Jingle Bells co-chair Kathy Schlosser, "Right now, we are working on a number of possible options; the door is open for a new opportunity."

The Jaycees are used to new challenges and change. There have been many over the 63-year history of Jingle Bells and usually things turn out better than expected, Schlosser said.

"What we need to do is look at the positive, put our nose to the grindstone and move forward," she said.

The Jaycees said they're very appreciative of all the efforts of KSAX and its staff over the past several years.

"They took over televising Jingle Bells after KCCO ceased operations and have been just as flexible and easy to work with," Schreiner said. "Ed and others at KSAX were always willing to make recommendations to improve the telethon, and it showed."

The Jaycees thanked Hubbard Broadcasting for allowing the telethon to be broadcast each year; taking up peak air time on Saturday evenings.

"We especially thank KSAX Station Manager Ed Smith," Schreiner said. "He spent countless hours of his personal time with the telethon. He was always willing to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible and did it with a smile -- and often a joke. Ed, thank you so much for all you've done to help make Jingle Bells successful."

The Jaycees are currently gathering information to determine the best options and possibilities.

"At this point, we want to stress to the community that we will continue the history and tradition of helping needy families during the holidays," Schreiner said.

Monetary donations to Jingle Bells can be made throughout the year. Given the uncertainty of how the change will affect the program this year, the Jaycees are hoping to collect donations early and would appreciate residents' help.

KXRA Radio is doing its part with a Jingle Bells fundraiser that will be broadcast on KXRA AM, KX-92 and Z-99 on Thursday, July 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. Listeners are encouraged to drop by the studio with cash or check to help get the Jaycees fundraising efforts off on the right foot.

There will be some special guests at KXRA, including long-time Jingle Bells host Jerry VanKempen.

For more information about Jingle Bells or to make a donation, log onto www.jinglebellsalexandria.org and follow the "Donations" link at the top. You can also mail a check to Jingle Bells Foundation, PO Box 131, Alexandria, MN 56308.

EdenloffAl Edenloff Al Edenloff was born in Alexandria and later moved to Parkers Prairie where he graduated in 1979. While in high school, he wrote sports stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent. Al graduated from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communication and started at the Echo Press as a summer intern in 1983. He worked as a reporter until 1990 when he was named editor. He's earned several writing and reporting awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) and the National Newspaper Association. He was presented with the Minnesota News Council's Journalism Accountability Award and is a three-time winner of the MNA's Herman Roe Editorial Writing Award. In his spare time, Al enjoys golfing, fishing, biking, watching sports, cooking and reading mystery novels.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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