By: Staff Writer
Winnipeg Free Press
The Fontaines, the generous Sagkeeng First Nation couple who won $50 million in a lottery draw in 2009, handed out a half-million dollars to Winnipeg charities on Monday.
The family donated $100,000 apiece to the Christmas Cheer Board, Siloam Mission, Rossbrook House, the Children's Hospital Foundation, The Dream Factory and Winnipeg Harvest.
"We were totally amazed and thrill to be the recipient of such a substantial donation," said Grace Thomson, executive director of The Dream Factory, in a release. The Dream Factory fulfils dreams for children suffering life-threatening illnesses.
"Since winning the lottery, Kirby and Marie have been so generous to the local community time and again, showing that they are big-hearted people," Thomson said.
At the Christmas Cheer Board, which was facing a revenue shortfall that figured to be upwards of $75,000, the donation will help the organization make ends meet at a time when it was needed the most.
"I was sitting at my desk and I got a phone call saying ‘Kai, you better come to the front because the Fontaines are coming to visit again," said cheer board director Kai Madsen.
"So I went out there right away and had a nice chat with Marie and Kirby. They certainly made my day and the day of all our volunteers."
It’s the second straight year the Fontaines passed along a sizable end-of-the-year donation to the cheer board. Last year, they cut Madsen a cheque for $50,000 to help cover costs over the holiday season.
Madsen said the Christmas Cheer Board needs to raise between $800,000 to $900,000 to keep operations moving forward annually. The numbers for 2013 haven’t been totalled yet (expenses are still being tabulated from the annual Christmas hamper drive), but Madsen said projections had the organization looking at a deficit of anywhere from $40,000-$75,000.
Receiving a $100,000 boost helped remove a lot of worry around the offices, Madsen said, adding that he was admittedly stressing about what the final 2013 numbers were going to look like next month.
"It gives us a nice start for next year," he said. "It just solidifies things for us and gives us now a chance to start looking forward to fundraising for 2014."