Even before they got their winnings, JoAnn MacQueen and Marlisa Mercer had decided to give it away to their community.
We all dream of winning the lottery someday and have various plans for how we would spend our fortune. It was a dream come true for best friends JoAnn MacQueen and Marlisa Mercer when they won a million dollars in the lottery a few months ago. However, they decided not to spend it on luxuries but instead to use it in the most wholesome way possible, reports Good News Network.
They identified several charities in their hometown of Orillia, a city in Ontario, Canada, and gave away most of their winnings to worthy causes in order to aid and improve the conditions of their local community. MacQueen recalls scanning her ticket at the Lotto Max machine at her neighborhood Shoppers Drug Mart on Front Street for the June 7 draw. She told Orillia Matters, "On the checkers, it doesn’t say you won, it doesn’t make any sound. It just came up as $1 million and a free play." She couldn't believe it and scanned it again to confirm.
The 69-year-old never thought she would win such a big amount of money and remembers being so shocked after hitting the jackpot that she was shaking. MacQueen and Mercer received the amount in August but had already decided that they would give it back to their local community
MacQueen's brother recently died due to alcoholism and so the best friends decided to donate to places that he might have accessed during his life. They gave varied sums to organizations like Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, the Orillia SPCA, and the Farley Foundation, an Ontario-based charity that assists low-income pet owners with animal care.
They also donated to several local charities in their hometown like the Salvation Army, the Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign in Orillia, Mariposa House Hospice, the Comfie Cat Shelter, and the Sharing Place Food Center, which assists the economically disadvantaged in gaining access to nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. The Sharing Place's executive director, Chris Peacock, expressed gratitude for the $10,000 contribution. He said, "These are the types of donations that really elevate an organization. It's a big deal."
He said the contribution would help the Sharing Place with its food bills and that the donation came at an appropriate time given the rising cost of living and the current holiday season. He said of the friends, "They are completely focused on how can they help to make this community a better place through this win. Not many people win a million bucks and have the core goal of spending it on others and improving this community."
MacQueen and Mercer also gave another $10,000 check to the Comfie Cat Shelter. McQueen explained, "I like that they are a no-kill shelter. I think that they get overlooked because they are independent and don’t have a lot of backing." Shelter manager and founder Barb MacLeod is extremely grateful for this contribution. She said, "It covers our vet bill for October, and it gives us money for more spay and neuters."
MacLeod revealed that she was moved to tears when the lottery winners approached her with the donation and that their contribution is among one of the five biggest donations they have ever received. She said, "We were really low on funds. We’ve been having a rough few weeks with people surrendering cats to us that were not healthy. This takes a big load off us."
MacQueen and Mercer will distribute the money left over after their donations to relatives and friends. They will also undertake some house innovations.