L-Istrina charity telethon collects €6.2 million

A rare sight of President George Vella with tears in his eyes closes of this year's L-Istrina that was overshadowed by political turmoil

An emotional George Vella said he was not expecting the sum to be so big given the circumstances in the country
An emotional George Vella said he was not expecting the sum to be so big given the circumstances in the country

Updated at midnight  

The annual national fund raiser L-Istrina raised just over €6.2 million in donations as the 12-hour marathon came to a close at midnight.

An emotional George Vella with tears in his eyes said he was not expecting the sum to be so big given the circumstances in the country. The sum is €1 million less than last year's record collection.

L-Istrina 2019 clocked off at midnight with €6.2 million in donations
L-Istrina 2019 clocked off at midnight with €6.2 million in donations

"I was not expecting this but it goes to show the true nature of the Maltese who rally to help others when they are called to do so," the President said as he closed off the marathon with his wife, Miriam, next to him.

The funds collected will go to the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, which is an offshoot of the presidency and helps people in need.

This year's telethon, the 21st edition, was held in the middle of a heavy political atmosphere that has characterised the closing weeks of 2019.

By 6pm the telethon collected €3.1 million. The slow progress prompted programme host Peppi Azzopardi to repeatedly call on businesses to donate despite the unfavourable atmosphere.

READ ALSO: Slow start to L-Istrina as political turmoil overshadows generosity 

The marathon in which people, companies and organisations are urged to donate funds ran between noon and midnight.

L-Istrina kicked off to a slow start despite repeated appeals for people to put political turmoil aside and be generous
L-Istrina kicked off to a slow start despite repeated appeals for people to put political turmoil aside and be generous

This was President George Vella’s first L-Istrina and in his opening message urged people to help those in need. “The funds are needed so we can continue to support people in need throughout the year... I am convinced that tonight we will be here again to celebrate a large sum of money for those who truly need it,” he said.

The President’s wife, Miriam Vella also urged people to donate.

Last year, the marathon manged to raise €7,134,036, breaking the previous year’s record by over a million.

Amidst the political turmoil that has rocked the country - some individuals had even called for the fund raiser to be cancelled - the President insisted “the sick do not choose when they need help”.

“When the sick are involved, we all come together to help despite what the country is passing through,” Vella said.

In his first Christmas message of his presidency, Vella urged people to donate during the fund raiser, emphasising that those most in need shouldn’t have to suffer due to recent events.

The fund raiser was streamed live on TVM and the political TV stations, NET TV and ONE.

PM Joseph Muscat at this year's edition of L-Istrina
PM Joseph Muscat at this year's edition of L-Istrina

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat visits L-Istrina

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and members of the cabinet visited the telethon. He was also accompanied by leadership contestants Robert Abela and Chris Fearne, as well as Labour MPs and MEPs.

Muscat dwelt on the importance of the Malta Community Chest Fund: “Taxpayers are already forking out money to provide the free health service, but there are always cases in which patients are not eligible to receive free medicines and treatment.”

The PM called on people to show their generosity, and announced that the government had donated €15,000 to help with the organisation of the event.

Adrian Delia on L-Istrina
Adrian Delia on L-Istrina

Adrian Delia appeals for generosity

Opposition leader Adrian Delia accompanied by several PN MPs, including Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco, also visited L-Istrina.

Delia appealed for generosity, stating that “we must forget everything and give something back to those who truly need it.”

“Understanding the true Christmas spirit is finding joy in helping the smallest and weakest among us so they find the support and courage so they can make it through the hardship they are passing through” he said.

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