Supporting the food bank

Derek Montague
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50/50 tickets bring in thousands of dollars for Friendship Centre

The money raised from the sale of 50/50 tickets at NorthMart will help food bank users get fresh food and vegetables. Pictured in photo are, from left, Hope Sheppard (Labrador Friendship Centre), Richard Thomas (NorthMart store manager), Tuttu Hunter (Labrador Friendship Centre), and Rev. Jean Shears (food bank committee member).

Many people in Labrador love 50/50 draws and it has become one of the most common fundraisers in the Big Land. Whether you are watching a hockey tournament or playing bingo, chances are someone will approach you with a bundle of tickets for sale.

For the past year, the Labrador Friendship Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has teamed up with NorthMart to utilize the 50/50 draw for a good cause.

The Friendship Centre operates an important food bank in the community. Each month, between 175 and 200 residents use the service to feed themselves and their families.

With so many users, donations and fundraisers are crucial to keeping the shelves stocked. So, when NorthMart’s manager Richard Thomas phoned the Friendship Centre last year and suggested they sell 50/50 tickets in store, it seemed like a grand idea.

“When the new manager (Richard Thomas) came to work at NorthMart, he called me to get together and see what he can do for the community,” recalled Hope Sheppard of the Labrador Friendship Centre.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea.”

After the first year of the fundraiser, and more than 50 weekly prize draws, an incredible $44,000 has been raised for the Labrador Friendship Centre.

Thomas said as soon as he arrived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, he wanted to make it known that NorthMart cared about the community.

“It was our way to show we’re a good, caring, corporate citizen. And we wanted to support a good cause in the community,” said Thomas.

Starting in March of 2013, the food bank’s 50/50 tickets were available for $2 each at NorthMart’s checkout counters. The tickets for the first week’s draw sold out in a flash.

“We figured we’d sell enough tickets so there’d be a $500 winner and $500 for the food bank. And the tickets were sold out in a day and a half,” said Sheppard.

“I didn’t think it would be that big of a success,” added Thomas. “It’s thanks to our customers who made it a great success.”

After realizing that they could sell more than $1,000 in tickets, the sales goal was doubled. Nearly every week for the past year, NorthMart and the Friendship Centre has sold $2,000 worth in tickets; with $1,000 going to the 50/50 winner and $1,000 going to the Friendship Centre.

Out of their $1,000, the Friendship Centre uses $500 for the food bank and the other $500 goes towards community enhancement projects.

The Friendship Centre’s food bank has limited space, with no room for fresh food like fruits and vegetables. So with the money raised from 50/50 sales, vouchers for healthy, fresh food, is purchased from NorthMart at a discounted price.

“Because our food bank is so small and we’re run by volunteers, we don’t have the means to hold fresh food,” said Sheppard. “So with the money from the sales of the tickets, we buy vouchers, which give our clients some fresh food.”

With one voucher, a food bank recipient can get a bag of oranges, a bag of apples, two litres of milk, two pounds of carrots, five pounds of potatoes, a loaf of bread, and a dozen eggs.

Since the 50/50 draw has been such a popular success, there’s no plan to stop doing it in the near future.

“This is going to be a long-term partnership,” said Thomas.

Organizations: Labrador Friendship Centre

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador

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