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Women's shelter gets local support a toonie at a time

Win money and support Lac La Biche's women's shelter

LAC LA BICHE - A little bit of change is hoped to make a big change — that's the message of a fundraising idea currently running through Lac La Biche's Hope Haven Women's Shelter.

The Change for Hope fundraiser lets players enter a 50/50 draw for just a toonie a week. Two winners drawn in the contest's first two draws took home $100. As more people become aware of the draw, bigger prizes will be awarded, and more funds will go to the local women's shelter, says Hope Haven executive director Melissa Green.

"It's something different that can help our organization and our community members," said Green, explaining that "different" is becoming the replacement for conventional fundraisers like casinos and the annual Hope Have Golf Tournament  which were cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. "It's creative fundraising. Our staff are so amazing to come up with new ideas."

The Change For Hope contest has virtual and in-person components, taking players to local businesses and onto the shelter's website. Registration forms are available at six locations in the hamlet of Lac La Biche. Registrations can also be filled out online at Hope Haven's website. Once a player is registered, they are given a unique player number. That number is added to a list of numbers.

Each week, players can put a special sticker onto a toonie, clearly write their unique number on the sticker, and drop the coin into one of the six on-location draw bins. Online players have the option to register for six months or a year's worth of draws with a one-time payment. Once a week, one of the numbers is drawn. The weekly draws take place on Wednesday's and are shared on the shelter's social media page. The winner gets half of the toonie-pot.

"We will use our proceeds for our specific needs that are client-related or for building maintenance," said Green, hoping to continue the community support historically shown toward the shelter. "This is such a great community for support."

While the shelter has received government funding assistance to offset reduced revenues, Green says those dollars are specifically earmarked for COVID-related projects. She said the ability to use locally-generated funds for local needs is a good thing. 

Although funding and fundraising has slowed down during the COVID pandemic, the workload hasn't. Although vacancy rates in the shelter were up during the initial COVID weeks, Green says their doors have been opening to a growing amount of new clients in recent weeks. She feels the fears of the virus spread kept some people from coming to a "communal location."

"I think once that people realized we were open and we are a safe place with all of the precautions in place, we saw numbers increase," she said, explaining that the Change of Hope draws directly benefit the clients and the community.

More unique fundraising projects are also in the works for the shelter. The facility's kitchen staff have been busy in recent days creating 28 dozen cinnamon buns that were pre-ordered for sale. In recent weeks, funds were raised by the sale of submarine sandwich lunch specials.

More details on the Change For Hope draws can be found through links in the digital version of this article at

The next Change For Hope draw takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 9.