Guiding a bright yellow ruler down a long list of phone numbers, volunteer Fran Hagins looked down her glasses to dial one of her first phone calls for The Arc of Atlantic County’s telethon on Giving Tuesday.

Hagins, of Egg Harbor Township, worked for Verizon for more than 30 years before retiring. But this time, she’s not picking up the phone for work, she’s doing it to say thank you.

The Arc’s telethon took a different approach to Giving Tuesday. Instead of asking donors to give, the organization made personal calls to thank them for supporting the Arc’s mission of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“A lot of people make donations to nonprofits and you never hear anything. It’s about connecting with these major and smaller donors,” said Calum Kennedy, assistant director of development and community outreach for The Arc.

Hagins was one of about a dozen volunteers who, clad in matching black T-shirts, huddled around a small office table to make calls during two-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In front of them, they had a list of more than 1,000 individuals and businesses who donated at least $5 to the organization over the past two years and a script to read from.

“They’re happy to get a call. They’re happy to be recognized for contributing,” said volunteer Kathy Berns, who has a 34-year-old son with an intellectual disability.

While Berns chatted on the phone for an extra minute with a fellow volunteer, others used their rulers to quickly cross off numbers from the list after leaving messages.

“People still check their voicemail at night, and they really like receiving that message,” Kennedy said.

Along with the telethon, another group of volunteers stuffed envelopes for the group’s holiday cards that would be sent out to donors later this year.

Chanise Rhoades, of Mays Landing, has received services from the Arc for about 24 years and volunteered to stuff cards.

“It means a lot that there’s actually people out here that care enough for this program to give back to not only me, but to others who need the services,” she said.

Kennedy said the funds raised by the holiday cards will go toward The Arc’s recreation programs that will benefit 800 to 1,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Contact: 609-272-7239

Staff Writer

I report breaking news and cover the local stories at the Press's digital desk. I grew up in South Jersey and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a degree in English.

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