It’s a CTV tradition that’s been helping Maritime children and families in need, dating back to 1964.

More than $446,000 was raised for the 54th annual Christmas Daddies Telethon on Saturday. Every year the telethon brings in thousands of dollars to support families across the region during the Christmas season.

CTV retiree, Jim Hill Junior says he remembers the first year for Christmas Daddies when his father – one of the founders – helped dozens of children.

“I can remember the first year we raised $1,500 in about seven hours and thought we did fantastic,” he says.

The show began when local television was black and white and shot on grainy film. Now, the telethon has grown to spread across the region to helping thousands of children. 

“We help hundreds of thousands of children and that’s the reason I’m here,” says Hill.

CTV Atlantic anchor and executive producer Steve Murphy says he grew up watching the Christmas Daddies Telethon in his hometown of Saint John. Murphy says he jumped at the chance to get involved with the event when he moved to Halifax.

“It’s about all the kids who have special needs that we can address the first Saturday in December, the second, and pitching in, and the wonderful thing is it's a tradition that started about 20 feet where we are standing right now,” he says.

Christmas Daddies includes four separate telethons: Halifax, Moncton, Prince Edward Island and Sydney. The annual event remains a regional program, but it’s been united into one seamless seven-hour broadcast.

Local choirs, single acts, band members, reporters and anchors shuffled into newsrooms to entertain in front of the camera. Ebenezer Scrooge and Santa Claus even joined in.

Trent McGrath, the vice-president and general manager of CTV Atlantic, says Christmas Daddies continues to change each year, but holds the same goal as it did in the beginning.

“I think it’s maybe a little bit about Christmas Daddies as really grass roots,” says McGrath. “It's about neighbours helping neighbours and local businesses helping families in their communities.”

Mainland Nova Scotia co-ordinator and executive director for Christmas Daddies, Roxanne Robinson, says it’s an event she holds close to her heart.

“Funds raised go back to the community where they came from so for people who want to reach out and support their own community,” she says. “It’s just fabulous and that warms my heart and that’s what it’s all about.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.