It’s all-day radio for better days in city

by | Nov 25, 2012 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

So now I don’t feel so bad. Not after seeing how many people went shopping Thanksgiving night. What is it about saving $100 on a TV that makes us go bananas?

Just watching the huge lines of Thursday night shoppers charging into Walmart or Sears left me sympathizing with so many: The workers who had their Thanksgiving night ruined. The family who did all that cooking just to see guests wipe their mouths and say, “Gotta get to Best Buy!” I even feel for the NFL, which was hoping you’d watch one more game.

OK, I’m kidding about that.

Still, there is a lesson here: Do not get between Americans and shopping centers. Which is why, as mentioned, I don’t feel so bad about what I am about to ask you. Given Thanksgiving night, asking people to come to a shopping mall should be a piece of cake, right?

And that is what I’m doing. Asking you to come to a mall. Well, the Somerset Collection in Troy. More than a mall, really. A high-end, retail shopping experience, or, for purposes of this column, a charity event that has my larynx worried.

On Tuesday, from the north side of the Somerset Collection, we will attempt to broadcast for 15 hours straight, 6 a.m.-9 p.m., to raise funds for Detroit’s neediest citizens this holiday season.

If my voice holds up.

So many need your help

It is not a new idea. Marathon broadcasts for charity have been going on at least since 1949, when Milton Berle staged the first one on TV for cancer research. And everyone knows about the Jerry Lewis telethon, which began in the mid-1960s to fight muscular dystrophy.

I have never tried one. On Tuesday, I will. I will get my tea and honey and throat lozenges and dive into the fray. I won’t be alone. I’ve invited pretty much every well-known person I’ve encountered to join us via phone or in-person – and many, including Hugh Jackman, Lyle Lovett, Hank Azaria, Tony Bennett, Lloyd Carr, Catherine O’Hara, Kevin Smith, Dr. Phil and local media stars, have agreed.

Why have they agreed?

They’ve agreed because tonight there are people sleeping in Detroit’s streets and alleys, shivering under blankets or cardboard boxes.

They’ve agreed because today there are homeless kids in this city who have never seen a doctor.

They’ve agreed because there are veterans this morning who have no place to go. And there are mothers in transitional programs who have no place to leave their babies when looking for work.

They’ve agreed because there are two-parent families who dream of having a roof over their heads – but can never afford it. They’ve agreed because there are countless dangerous, abandoned houses that need boarding up.

They’ve agreed because they saw what happened to a 101-year-old Detroit woman named Texana Hollis, evicted from her home, her possessions stacked on the street. And they saw what happened when a charity and givers banded together to get Hollis her house back.

It’s so easy to donate

All of the above – and much more – describes the dedicated purposes of the S.A.Y. Detroit charities and their partner programs, such as Working Homes/Working Families, 100 Houses, A Time To Help, S.A.Y. (Super All Year) Detroit Family Health Clinic and Detroit Dream Scholars.

The idea of our radiothon is to pull together all parties – the people who benefit from these charities, famous folks who wish to call attention to them, citizens who wish to help.

And one hoarse host. (Beats a horse host!)

We will be taking donations all day long, via a phone number – 866-992-GIVE – and a website – You can even text donations starting today by typing MITCH to 55678.

All money goes straight to the charitable actions. There are never any administrative costs.

Although I have been blessed to receive many things in this life, I can truly say the most rewarding thing has been giving. Forming these charities over the years has been the best and most humbling use of my time. Your support has proved that paying it forward works.

So. If you can join us at Somerset, please do. If you can listen on WJR-AM (760), please do. If you can follow the webcast on (plus, or other places) or watch the cut-ins on local TV, please do.

Even a $5 donation makes a difference. After all, if we’re willing to cut our own holidays short to go shopping, we can certainly put a little holiday spirit into a struggling neighbor’s life, right?

Thank you.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or Interested in volunteering for a two-hour shift during the radiothon? Contact Rachael Williams at ASAP. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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