The little raffle that could

Tuesday, October 25, 2022
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I get joy from fundraising and I always want to do something.

Joanna Hofer, Riverdale Colony

For many years, Joanna Hofer observed her husband Harry raise money for Canadian Foodgrains Bank through the Bear Creek Growing Project on the Riverdale Colony near Gladstone, Man. She also helped raise money for various causes around her colony and the neighbouring area.

“Hutterite ladies are not usually involved in finances,” explained Hofer, while sitting in her sparkling clean kitchen on the colony. “But I get joy from fundraising and I always want to do something.”

Hearing about the work the Foodgrains Bank does around the world moved her and she felt God’s call to contribute.

“My fear is that when I lie on my deathbed that God will ask me if even one dollar of mine could’ve gone to feed someone who’s hungry,” she said.

After pondering how she could put her skills to work for Foodgrains Bank, she came up with the idea to stage a raffle to raise money among the women on her colony. In 2020, she started small, asked for donated items from friends, family and associates and raised a few thousand dollars.

Some days Joanna writes 100s of raffle tickets. Photo: Gaylene Dempsey

In 2021, things really took off. The fundraising raffle grew through the power of Whatsapp groups and word of mouth.

Hofer organizes everything from her kitchen table, diligently recording each bid she receives and handwriting each ticket. But she’s quick to acknowledge the help she receives from friends and family on the colony, including teacher Mary Hofer, who’s like her right-hand woman. “I don’t go bragging about this because it’s not about me. I just made the first move,” she insists.

Hutterite women started buying tickets from all over Manitoba and even across the border in North Dakota, Montana and Washington. The little raffle ended up raising over $37,000 for the Foodgrains Bank.

Hofer and her colony are proud of what they can donate towards ending world hunger. “It’s now a community fundraiser,” she says. “Lots of Hutterite ladies have told me ‘don’t quit, let’s do this again.’”

Their 2022 raffle is slated for the second Friday of December.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 edition of Breaking Bread. Download your copy here.

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