The Local Shopping Spree Raffle isn’t your everyday raffle. Teaming up with 35 different local businesses, The Inn of the Good Shepherd launched the raffle in 2021, following a year of increased use and decreased fundraising. “We’re really excited about the raffle because we know it’s going to help so many in the community. It’s going to help our programs in terms of raising funds, but it’s also going to help local businesses get through this very difficult time,” shares Myles Vanni, The Inn’s Executive Director.

The Raffle boasts a $50,000 prize board that features eleven prize packages from 35 local businesses, including a Grand Prize Home Package worth $20,000. “We’ve never done anything of this scale,” shares Vanni. Each prize package has been purchased from local businesses at face value. “In a lot of raffles, the charity asks the businesses for prizes — we’re purchasing the prizes outright from the businesses to help give them support and keep them working,” says Vanni. “We recognize that one of the best ways to give people a hand up is through employment and that comes from supporting our local economy – our local businesses.”

Currently, The Inn runs a soup kitchen, food bank, shelters and other programs assisting low-income residents of the community. COVID has seen a dramatic, but expected uptick in the use of these services. Pre-COVID, The Inn had 35 people in the shelter at The Haven and the Good Shepherd Lodge. Today they have over 215 people in care in hotels and motels throughout the city. “People have become homeless because of the pandemic, and we’re really, really working hard to support them. We want to make sure they’re fed and cared for and sheltered until we can get them back into housing.”

The raffle is being supported by #local and the Supporting Sarnia and Surrounding Businesses Facebook Group. With 17,000 members the group was the perfect online space to promote the raffle and highlight the local businesses involved. Co-founded by husband and wife Rodney James Medwid and Kendra Petley, the couple is excited to see the group evolve and get involved with this large-scale community raffle. With a background in creating community event technology, #local is supporting The Inn and raffle by developing and maintaining the website and coordinating marketing for the Local Shopping Spree.

Organizers are hopeful that the Local Shopping Spree Raffle will do well and replace some of The Inn’s lost income from long-standing fundraisers that had to be paused during the pandemic. “The funds we raise from it will certainly have a huge impact in terms of meals, as well as rent and utilities assistance and help for folks throughout the year,” Vanni says. Tickets for the raffle will be on sale until August 26. Tickets can be purchased online or in-person at select locations. Visit the Local Shopping Spree website for more information on where to purchase tickets and for the full Rules of Play. “We’re in the business of helping people and this is a way we can do it in a big win-win.”