KC phonothon raises more than $57,000 county wide

Thursday, September 22, 2022
From left, Remsen Knights of Columbus members Tony Loutsch, Marv Pottebaum, and Denny Slota take a picture together at the Phonothon.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

PLYMOUTH CO. — A county-wide effort by Knights of Columbus councils during the 42nd annual KC Phonothon for Persons with Disabilities, surpassed its $55,000 goal.

Life Skills Training Center’s Marketing and Development Coordinator Shelly Thomson said as of closing the phonothon on Wednesday evening, $56,955 had been tallied in donations.

“By the time I got into the office this morning (Thursday), at 7 o’clock, I had another $395 in pledges on my voice mail. So that brings our total up to $57,350,” she said.

Members of the community enjoy goodies from the Chamber Coffee, which took place from 8-11 a.m. at the VFW Hall.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

She knows that total will go higher.

For the Le Mars KCs, Justin Freking, Dave Hill and John Peters organized and kept things running throughout the day.

KC councils at Akron and Remsen also made calls throughout the day, while the Kingsley council is conducting a mail campaign in its

From left, Tony Loutsch, Marv Pottebaum, and Denny Slota start making phone calls for the Phonothon.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

community.

Freking noted, “When we finished the calls that day, I think we were just shy of $57,000, so it was really neat, and this continues to happen — guys use their cell phones, text people, those who have previously given and we still get calls and messages back to cell phones, throughout the evening and into the next day, making sure they got their pledge in. So it’s pretty unique to have people that think about it even after the event, they make their pledges, they want to be a part of what we’re all trying to do here.”

Conducting the phonothon has great meaning to the KCs of Plymouth County.

“First I think it is is a great testament and honor to continue what our members started 42 years ago and that we’ve continued their vision of helping our friends and family and those with disabilities,” Freking said. “On top of that, as far as the clients that we help, to know that we can use our numbers and our membership to impact so many lives, through one day, is pretty special. It’s special that our guys are willing to invest that time and energy to make those calls and continue this tremendous vision.”

He said with Le Mars, Akron, and Remsen making calls, many contacts were made on Wednesday, along with the letters which Kingsley sends out.

“Whoever gets the pledges doesn’t matter. With all the negatives in the world, all of these members are happy and willing to step up and help. It’s good to use our energy for something so positive,” he said.

Of the dollars raised with the phonothon, 90 percent of the money goes to Life Skills Training Center with 10 percent going to the Iowa Special Olympics.

Freking said he appreciated the businesses who provided food for the callers, and Frontier Communications for providing extra phone lines at the KC Hall.

Thomson said there is still work to be done to make sure everyone who wants to donate has the opportunity.

“There are still some phone calls that we have made that still need to be returned,” she said. “We will also send out postcards, an obnoxious lime green postcard, to everyone who has in the past made a pledge of $25 or more, saying, ‘sorry we missed you, are you still interested in donating this year?’”

Thomson calls the phonothon “a humbling experience.”

“It is very humbling to feel the support of your community wrapping its arms around you and saying, ‘Hey, we’re here for you and we support you and we think you have a great cause going on there,’” she said. “These are mentally disabled clients here and they support them, they acknowledge them, and they are looking out for their welfare.”

Thomson related as she went on the production floor Thursday morning, the clients were asking how Wednesday went.

“And boy were they excited to hear the amount of money raised,” she said. “They were excited to hear some of the stories that happened throughout the day, and they were especially excited that Bruce (Postma) got to be interviewed on KLEM.”

Bruce Postma, who himself is a client with Life Skills, and his father, Frank Postma, served as this year’s phonothon honorary co-chairs.

Thomson said there are things that happen each year that continually surprise her.

“Every year I think there aren’t going to be anymore big surprises, but this year there was several businesses that when we made the phone call, they would pledge this amount of money and when they came in to pay, the check was for triple the amount of money. That happened a couple of times here in Le Mars,” she said.

But there was more to come.

“When I was driving home and talking to Terry Clarey from Akron, he brought it up about how several individuals had come in an doubled the amount of money that they pledged,” she continued. “I don’t even know what to say about that. It’s just so wonderful. It really is.”

Thomson finds that generosity particularly gratifying given the challenging economic times.

“We have a lot of inflation questions, are concerned with the stock market, we’re concerned when that crop comes out of the field this year if we’ve had enough moisture and if some of our farmers can put another one in next year, and then you get to the second Wednesday in September and everybody comes with their checkbooks. What does that say about a community? It’s says a lot,” she said.

The money raised this year is being put toward capital improvements for the Life Skills Training Center.

“We are working hard on our building itself, making sure that the flooring is all in good shape,” she said. “You know, these people are folding 4,000 pounds of laundry a day and they have to have all of the adjustable tables and right equipment to comfortably fold those clothes.

As the clients work on concrete floors, Thomson said it is important that the rubber mats stay in place, and are in good shape to not cause trip hazards.

“Are the vans in good shape so we can move clients from one job site to another. So we’re really emphasizing the capital expenditures in order to keep our building upgraded, safe and all of our equipment safe for these people,” she said.

Persons who made pledges may send their checks to Life Skills Training Center or drop them off at banks in Le Mars, Remsen and Akron.

“People can still make a donation,” she said.