The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the popular Rural Riches 50/50 Toonie Lottery on hold, but its organizers are determined to keep generating support for community organizations and cash for individuals.
The Rural Riches Treasure Trove Association, which is based in the Mahone Bay Centre, recently launched the Rural Riches Weekly Online Raffle as an extension to its efforts to help local communities.
Its first online draw will be conducted on May 27.
"This online raffle was created to safely support our community while respecting social distancing," the association explained in announcing the scheme.
The non-profit society emphasized the raffle was not a replacement for the 50/50 Toonie Lottery, "but an online opportunity to support our community."
Just like its 50/50 Toonie Lottery, proceeds from the raffle will support the Mahone Bay Centre, the Lunenburg County Community Fund and numerous other Lunenburg County organizations approved by the society.
"Right now, why online is because of COVID," Lynn Hennigar, the president of the association, told LighthouseNOW. However, she said the group is exploring having both forms of the fundraiser in the future.
"We actually think that there are two markets there: people who are really comfortable going into the store and wanting to play that way; and then there's people who will play online. But this is just an opportunity for us to test that out," said Hennigar.
With the Rural Riches 50/50 Toonie Lottery, players buy a number that they use every time they want to participate in the weekly lottery, held on Wednesdays. When they want to play, they go into a designated retail spot and put $2 toward the lottery. If the player's number is selected in the lottery, he or she shares the cash prize with a community group designated by the association for that week. If no one's number is chosen, the cash rolls over onto the following week.
The Rural Riches Weekly Online Raffle is played differently. With the Toonie Lottery players could put cash in and pay into the future; not so with the raffle. The entry point is $5 for one ticket instead of $2, and people can go on to pay $10 for three tickets or $20 for 10 tickets. This gives them more chances to win if they want to pay for them.
Online credit card charges are deducted from the total draw, according to Hennigar.
From October 30, 2019, when the lottery began, until it went on a hiatus following March 18, 2020, the Rural Riches 50/50 Lottery has grossed $29,428. Winners received $14,714 while, after $2,354.24 in administration fees were deducted, community organizations netted $12,359.76.
Hennigar was hesitant to predict when the 50/50 Toonie Lottery will be returning. While she said the province is showing sign of lifting restrictions "soonish," she explained that the organization will need to look at how it operates in line with post-COVID retail space considerations, such as where they might be able to put their boxes.
"And the issue of a second wave. We really don't want to come back out and then cancel again," Hennigar said.
"We may not be back out quite as quickly as it would seem to the public that we could be. But we're absolutely coming back," she added.
Anyone wanting to play should go to the new website: www.ruralrichesonlineraffle.com and pay with a credit card. Play ends every Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. and the draw takes place at 2 p.m.every Wednesday.
Proceeds from the May 27 will support Chester Basin, New Ross, and Chester Lions Club, the Mahone Bay Centre and the Lunenburg County Community Fund.