***Phone lines are now closed. As of Tuesday, Sept. 5, a total of $78,926 has been raised. Thank you to everyone who donated!
If you were unable to get through Thursday evening, you may donate directly to the local American Red Cross office by calling 330-392-2551.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Valley joined forces to raise more than $78,000 for the victims of Hurricane Harvey during Thursday’s telethon — even shutting down the phone lines in the process.
The Help from the Valley donation raised money for the American Red Cross to send to Texas, showing the Valley’s generosity to support a needy cause.
“The public responds, people respond and companies respond,” said WKBN/WYTV General Manager Dave Coy. “It’s a good day.”
In all, more than 2,000 people tried to call to donate Thursday evening. Because so many called so fast, only about 400 calls were able to be answered.
“Unbelievable,” Karen Conklin, Red Cross executive director, said. “First of all, we blew up your entire phone system here. We were told there were over 300 phone calls trying to come in at the same time. Which is absolutely awesome.”
Coy says that kind of a response to a phone bank is unprecedented.
“We’ve used this system 10-15-20 times for different projects and we never fathomed that we’d get that kind of response,” he said.
It all started before the phone lines even opened.
Sam Covelli offered to match your donations dollar for dollar to encourage people to respond.
“We felt that we wanted to be part of it,” he said. “We wanted to start out with a [$10,000] donation that we feel could help raise money in the community in a matching fund.”
Then, Boak and Sons Construction came on board with another $10,000 match.
Sam Boak knows firsthand what the victims are facing.
“Start all over again,” Boak said. “And a lot of them don’t have insurance that covers it. So they’re gonna be looking at ‘Where do I start from here?'”
Soon, Vallourec Star also stepped up, again with a $10,000 matching donation. The company has a very personal connection to the victims.
“We make the pipe here in Youngstown and we send some of it to Houston to be finished,” Judson Wallace said. “And we’ve got about 200 employees down there. As far as we know right now, there’s about 30 of them that have been completely flooded out.”
Braking Point Recovery also chipped in with another $10,000.
Even the Red Cross was shocked by the outpouring of support.
“This is why I love calling the Valley home,” Conklin said. “Whether it’s a local disaster — like a house fire or an apartment fire — when people say ‘What can we do to help?’ to something to help complete strangers, we’re blessed here.”