With the help of local celebrities, a Detroit radio station held the country's largest single-day radiothon last week and raised more than $2.2 million for The Salvation Army.
For 16 hours, Detroit's legendary radio host Dick Purtan joined with celebrity guest callers including comedian/actor Tim Allen, actor/musician Jeff Daniels, comedian Kathleen Madigan, NBC weatherman Al Roker and others to raise funds through Detroit's WOMC-FM (Oldies 104.3).
"This radiothon is one of the most successful fundraisers The Salvation Army runs anywhere in the country," said Major George Hood, National Community Relations Secretary for The Salvation Army. "The success of this event is a sign of hope that Americans will always respond to help each other in the face of adversity, as is the case during this recent economic downturn which has hit Michigan particularly hard."
Michigan had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 11.6 percent in January. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for February soared to 8.1 percent, the highest in 25 years, the government announced on Friday.
During the 22nd annual radiothon last week, comedian Tim Allen was the most prolific fundraiser, raising $110,452, or enough to feed 920 people in Detroit for a year. He also pledged to match up to $20,000 in donations during his hour of fundraising calls.
Money raised by the radiothon will be used to provide meals and shelters for needy men, women and children at The Salvation Army's "Bed and Bread" program in Michigan.
The Salvation Army's Eastern Michigan Division has reported a 20 percent increase in need this year. According to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the ministry's Eastern Michigan Division is the largest provider of social services outside of the government in the area.
"Over the past 22 years I have been inspired by the generosity of the metro Detroit community," said radio host Purtan, in a statement. "In our current economic crisis I could not have imagined that we would have such an outpouring of donations! This just goes to show how passionate our community is about taking care of their neighbors in need."
Purthan has partnered with The Salvation Army for 22 years and has helped raised nearly $22 million for Detroiters in need through his annual Dick Purtan Radiothon. In 2006, he received the Evangeline Booth Award, one of The Salvation Army's highest honors, for his lifetime achievement in radio.