Music, dance, magic: Glen Ellyn Food Pantry will resurrect the TV telethon

A prime-time variety show next month won't have a studio audience, a sharp-dressed ringmaster or a ring-a-ding-ding musical guest.

But a fundraiser for the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry will re-create the live magic of a TV telethon of yesteryear.

Local musicians, artists, dancers and even a magician will pull out the stops while volunteers work the phone lines during a two-hour, livestreaming production benefiting the pantry's capital campaign.

Entertainment acts will appeal to viewers watching from home to call in donations in support of fundraising efforts to move the pantry to new headquarters.

It's one of the pandemic-era adaptations to a capital campaign that's three-quarters of the way to a $900,000 goal.

"There's a spirit of community and a spirit of creativity that the pandemic has created that has been kind of exciting," said Laura Glaza, the pantry's executive director. "People are rallying around new ideas and supporting nonprofits who are trying to make a difference."

The telethon will air on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, meaning Bears fans can get their football fix, then settle in for an evening of homegrown talent.

The telethon lineup features the McNulty Irish Dancers, singer-songwriter Gavin Coyle, Anima-Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, the youth puppet team from the Village Green Baptist Church, One Voice Outreach Choir and comedian Amy Sherman.

Geoff Bevington, the artist behind the new Frida Kahlo mural in downtown Glen Ellyn, will create a painting during the telethon to put up for auction before the end of the show. Bevington is painting a dahlia, one of the Mexican icon's favorite flowers.

Due to COVID-19, performers will Zoom in from multiple locations. The Rev. George Smith, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, and James Van Camp, a parishioner, will serve as emcees.

The pantry invites viewers to register online in advance to receive a Zoom link and allow organizers to anticipate how many people could be on the line.

Viewers also can contribute online. An anonymous donor will match all donations until Nov. 9, up to $25,000.

The pantry launched the campaign to renovate and move operations to the former parsonage next to Faith Lutheran Church at 55 N. Park Boulevard.

The project will position the pantry closer to the Roosevelt Road corridor, enable the nonprofit group to meet increased demand, and potentially offer more evening hours.

"During COVID, the need for our own space has become glaringly obvious," board President Paula Nugent said last month in a presentation on the plans.

The pantry has long outgrown space in Grace Lutheran Church, its only home for more than 40 years. Now, it's on track to distribute more than 1 million pounds of food in 2020 and has seen nearly 400 new clients this year amid the economic strain from the pandemic.

'We cannot fail': Glen Ellyn Food Pantry hosts fundraisers for new home

A capital campaign is seeking $900,000 to renovate and move Glen Ellyn Food Pantry operations to the former parsonage next to Faith Lutheran Church at 55 N. Park Boulevard. Courtesy of the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry
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