Cold Weather, Generous Viewers, Boost WRAL’s 29th Coats For Children Telethon

2017 Coats for the Children Telethon

WRAL-TV’s Brian Shrader (l to r), Debra Morgan & Lena Tillet host the 1pm half-hour special for WRAL’s Coats for the Children Telethon on Friday, December 8, 2017.

Teamwork, a sudden dip in temperatures, some fun new ideas and a poignant caller all came together to make WRAL-TV’s 29th Annual Coats for the Children Telethon extra-special and super successful.  The fun took place in WRAL-TV’s Studio A on Friday, December 8, 2017.  The rain moved the outdoor shots under the overhang at the CBC headquarters, but undaunted, Southern Snowman still provided white stuff to add atmosphere.

When the telethon wrapped up Friday night, the WRAL team and phone bank volunteers had exceeded the $150,000 goal with a total of $152,208.

“That was a great day’s work for the Salvation Army. But the total is still climbing!” said WRAL-TV Director of Local Production Phyllis Parish.  She produces the telethon broadcast each year.  “After more online and text giving during the weekend, we’re currently at $164,883! Last year’s final total at the end of our 2016 Coats campaign (Dec 31) was $158k. We’ve past that and now want to reach $170,000!”

Scores of WRAL-TV staffers came together to make the telethon happen, with some special guests from other CBC divisions such as Wool E. Bull and WRAL-FM’s Kyle Smelser and Bryan Lord from Two Men and a Mom.

“This project takes a big team!” said Parish.  “Every department is involved to pull it off.”

She shared one of her favorite new ideas from the 2017 Telethon.

2017 Coats for the Children Telethon

WRAL-TV’s Brian Shrader (r to l) gets ready for some fun antics with WRAL-FM’s Bryan Lord & Kyle Smelser during WRAL’s Coats for the Children Telethon on Friday, December 8, 2017.

“Brian Shrader, Bryan and Kyle from 2 Men and a Mom, were up for doing something fun,” she explained.  “So we came up with a new challenge and a different way to bring MIX into our telethon.”

Between 1:15-1:45 of WRAL’s 1pm special, the station challenged viewers and listeners to call in with a $75 pledge, which buys a warm coat and fun toy for a boy or girl in need.

“For every $75 donation pledged during that time, Brian and the 2 Men guys would put on a coat and stack up a new toy,” Parish continued.  “The goal was to see how many coats they could wear at once and how many toys they could hold. Remember how cold and raw it was Friday?  The guys were eager to pile on coats to keep warm outside. In fact, it was snowing under the breezeway…thanks to Southern Snowman!”

Parish and her team had hoped for 10 or so pledges during the 30-minute push.

“But our generous viewers and listeners kept the phones ringing,” she said.  “Brian, Bryan and Kyle raised close to $1,300 during that challenge!”

All of the coats and toys they used went directly to the Salvation Army of Wake County.

Parish shared another favorite moment that happened during the late afternoon:

A caller from Wilson phoned in with a $50 pledge. She told the phone volunteer she had benefitted, as a child, from WRAL’s Coats for the Children campaign. She did not have a coat to wear and received one from WRAL and the Salvation Army. Now, as an adult, she was donating $50 to give another child a new, warm coat…and hope. Wow. Talk about paying it forward! Her story gave all of us in Studio A chills. That’s why we love doing the Coats for the Children Telethon. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s not too late to give to WRAL’s Coats for the Children this holiday season.  Coats are being accepted at various Jiffy Lube locations throughout the Triangle and at CBC divisions.  You can also make a donation online with PayPal or text a donation.  Find out details on, searching for the keyword “coats.”

And thanks to all the generous WRAL-TV viewers who have already contributed!

“Friday’s cold rain and sleet definitely kept ‘the need’ for warm winter clothing top of mind for our viewers,” said Parish.  “But inside Studio A and outside on our snowy plaza, there was a warm, magical feeling. The feeling of warmth and joy for thousands of families this holiday season.”

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