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East Lyme - In the high school television room, students were answering phones, checking sound levels and preparing to announce upcoming acts at a performance, as part of a Dec. 21 holiday event to benefit Care & Share.
"Hi, this is the East Lyme extravaganza telethon," said Ryan Delaforcade, freshman class president, into his headset as he answered calls to collect pledges for donations with Eric Sanfilippo, a high-school junior.
The students were participating in the Holiday Extravaganza Telethon, a televised event to raise funds for local families through the Care & Share organization. In the auditorium - and on television screens - the school choir, an a capella group, and the band performed and students and teachers sang holiday songs.
Students sang and danced, including a student who played "Silent Night" on a marimba. Others hosted the event and worked behind the scenes to film or coordinate its technological aspects.
"This year we tried to up the ante and make it into a 'make a difference day,'" said Jennifer Brush, a high school health and physical education instructor who helped organize the four-hour show with film and television teacher Grant Place. The event and student food drive raised more than $3,000 and collected 10 boxes of canned goods and non-perishable food.
In the room where students worked to answer calls and check on audio, a board adorned with holiday lights, a "Care & Share" sign and holiday artwork from the elementary school served as a backdrop for student annoucements.
Robert Alden, a sophomore, was checking sound levels and making sure the televised program ran smoothly from the television room.
"I think it's cool to be in the background of something like this for the community," he said.
By 12:30 p.m., the event, which began at 11 a.m., had raised $250 from donations.
"I'm just amazed at what East Lyme does for us," said Care & Share President Angie McLean, adding that the community also helps sponsor about 140 families over the holiday season.
At the high school's first telethon last year, the students raised more than $2,500 for the Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut.
"It was a lot of fun last year," said student Kaley Roberts, who was helping to host the event for her second year. "I wasn't expecting to make that much money last year, and I was really excited to be part of that."
Principal Michael Susi said the high school would continue the telethon event in upcoming years.
"It's an opportunity for the school to get behind their own community," he said.