Generosity on a large scale (HLD 216)

24 Oct 2020

No – this isn’t a blog about how generous our WA football teams have been, in letting two teams representing the hardest COVID hit state, the stage of the Grand Final of the Aussie rules football. We were being very generous towards a state who have had restrictions like no other Australian state, but I’m not going there.

No – tonight in Western Australia, we will commence our annual 26 hour telethon, to raise money for sick and disabled children. It’s been running for 52 years, and raises a huge amount of money.

I do remember as a youngster, Telethon (and the rival Appealathon which was run by a competing television station) was fascinating because it ran OVERNIGHT! If you were lucky enough to be allowed to watch the television at 2am, you’d see the poor ‘celebrities’ (I use this term quite loosely) still sitting there doing their thing. I am going to be honest in that we never watched the thing in the early hours of the morning at home as a kid, but I remember sleeping over at a friends house one year, and we watched it until the early hours. I don’t remember whether her parents knew we were awake watching telly or not, but there’s a good chance they were just glad we had stopped talking.

I do remember people who had phoned in to pledge their donation, waited excitedly to see if their donation was read out by a particular celebrity. The concept of spending hours upon hours sitting there watching people you may have never heard of before, reading out people’s names endlessly, was obviously an indication on how entertaining local television was.

Anyway – between all the entertainment (and again I use the term loosely) and the reading out of donations, there really is only so much of Telethon that I can watch. I apologise to those fanatic Telethon fans, and I know there’s a bunch of you out there. I’m always interested to see how much money they raise, and over the years it’s gone from “Wow that is quite a lot of money”, to ridiculous amounts. Companies seem to outdo each other in who can donate the most money, the government kindly gives back some of the money we give them in taxes, and people everywhere, it seems, hold special fundraising events to raise money for the cause. And thousands upon thousands of people like to donate to the cause.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good cause. The money goes into a foundation which then distributes the largesse to various causes including brain cancer, leukaemia, equipment and services for children with disabilities and so forth. So many of the donations that are read out often mention that the person making the donation is either “grateful for healthy children/grandchildren”, or “thankful for the wonderful care their children/grandchildren received at the children’s hospital” etc. The prospect of sick children seems to open wallets everywhere.

My only reason that I’m reticent about these televised fundraising events is this – do these people only donate money once a year? And only if there’s a chance of having their name read out by a celebrity or displayed on the tv screen somehow?

To be honest, if that’s so, for those people tax time must be much easier. I scrabble to find all the relevant claimable receipts from donations made throughout the year. I’m very sure I have never actually claimed all the donations we’ve made in a tax year…. because I just lose track of them all. I’m the sort of person who believes in spreading bits of money here and there, not dumping it all into one selected pot. I’m a fairly easy target for people needing donations.

But – it’s about to start, so I’m going to have a little watch of the first hour, and see who the ‘celebrities’ are this year. I may have to google them.

Thank you to the generous donors in WA. Good job. I hope your names get read out by someone relatively famous.

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