CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The president of the Charlottetown Legion says the success of the Chase the Ace draw could ultimately determine the group’s future.
Jim Ross said the lottery held at the legion every Saturday could mean “salvation” for the branch after it found itself in financial trouble following renovations a couple years ago.
Since then, the legion has had to sell its building although it still rents out space from the new owner.
“(Chase the Ace) could mean salvation really for our branch,” said Ross. “So far it’s been going really well. We’ve got great partners with Crossroads Fire Department. They’re really great at doing their thing and we’re really pleased with how things are going so far.”
The draw, which is held at 7:30 p.m. every Saturday at the legion, is entering its fifth week and is expecting a jackpot of $8,500 for this Saturday.
Legion 2nd vice-president Kent MacDonald said organizers have also picked up some tips and tricks from the massively successful draw held last summer by the North River Fire Department and Kingston Legion.
“They had a really smooth running fundraiser so we got a chance to learn from them,” said MacDonald. “We also learned from the ones in Alberton and Cape Breton. We called them and asked how they operated things and we’ve sort of streamlined our process.”
The community draw saw an increase in momentum last week when the Crossroads Fire Department opened a drive-thru venue to sell tickets on Saturday, similar to what North River did during last summer. The accessibility of buying tickets was one of the key factors in that draw reaching a million dollar jackpot.
It also seems to be working for the Crossroads department.
“We had a big jump this week in people picking up tickets,” said MacDonald. “We’re really happy with where it’s going.”
Organizers have also incorporated a “proxy draw,” which means that if a person’s name is picked and they’re not at the draw, organizers will attempt to pick the ace for them.
The Charlottetown draw originally began in September, with the ace being picked in early December on the 12th week. Robyn MacPhee won $15,277 during that draw before the deck was reshuffled.
“We weren’t too disappointed having a jackpot win prior to Christmas,” said MacDonald. “We decided as an organization, lets just keep it going so we took some of the profit and put it in to start off the jackpot.”
MacDonald said it’s not just the two organizations and draw winners who will benefit.
A group hoping to build a skateboard park in Stratford is also helping with the effort and will earn part of the proceeds, while funds will also help the legion support several groups and charities
Both MacDonald and Ross noted that if the draw continues to grow, they may also have to bring other groups onboard to volunteer.
“If things keep going we’ll need to look at getting more volunteers,” said Ross. “We’re looking forward to keeping it going for a while this time.”