The Unity Shoppe held its 35th Annual Holiday Celebration on Sunday, featuring a four-hour telethon on KEYT-TV, NewsChannel 3.
Tom Reed, the executive director of the Unity Shoppe, told the News-Press that the first hours of the telethon went well. In the first hour, a $25,000 donation and a $10,000 donation.
“I worked for three to four months prior to the telethon to set up these donations, but when it goes live, that is when the magic happens,” Mr. Reed told the News-Press.
Brad Paisley and Kenny Loggins co-hosted this year’s telethon.
“They are doing wonderfully, a lot is pre-taped. I did a 15 minute interview with the two of them together. Brad has performed the last three years. This is the first year Kenny and Brad got together, this is the first time that they have met each other,” Mr. Reed told the News-Press.
Brad Paisley was introduced to the Unity Shoppe almost ten years ago. Mr. Loggins also performed during the broadcast. The evening also included a kids’ performance called Teen Sing.
“People always comment … all the stuff you do: you have a fleet of trucks, a seniors program with 3,300 seniors, Toys for Tots year round, Job Smart program, natural disaster support, delivering groceries with a refrigerated van and much more,” said Mr. Reed.
The Unity Shoppe has only 24 employees, who do the bulk of the heavy lifting to keep all the programs running.
“The average employee has been with us 20 years” said Mr. Reed.
Another highlight from the evening was when a fire truck full of toys pulled up right after the opening of the telethon. Irene & Kristen Rhodes also volunteered trucks to pick up toys for the Toys for Tots program.
Vince Callabero donated $2,500 and Doniphan and Randy Judkins pledged $50,000. Additionally, Santa Barbara Lexus, now owned by the Santa Barbara AutoGroup, has donated a percentage from every car sold over the next two months.
“There is so much going on, everyone is coming through, we have board members volunteering,” Mr. Reed said.
Unity Shoppe receives a good deal of extra publicity due to Mr. Paisley, who has created his own shop in Nashville heavily influenced by the Unity Shoppe. Mr. Paisley does both national and international charity programs, and always credits the Unity Shoppe as his inspiration. Due to the publicity, there are now similar shops in San Francisco as well as one at Virginia Tech.
“Barbara Tellefon’s legacy is being fulfilled; she thought there should be a Unity Shoppe in every town in America,” Mr. Reed told the News-Press.
The last hour of the telethon will be hosted by Arthur von Wiesenberger. Arthur is the co-publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press.