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A Raffle Fundraiser Saved Our Team by Margaret Wood

A Raffle Fundraiser Saved Our Team  by Margaret Wood


 I am the captain of the FRC robotics team at my school. I have had passion for this program since the first day I joined. It is an amazing program that promotes learning and fun at the same time, and in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) field no less. Unfortunately at the beginning of last year we lost all of our funding due to an unfortunate budget cut. Our Board of Education did everything they could to get the funding to continue the program, but there just was not any room in the budget for the $6,000 buy in to be entered into the competition. The entire team was devastated.


My co-captain and I met with the Superintendent and the Principal of the high school for a last ditch attempt to get funding. Although it was futile, I had gotten my hopes up just a little once again. Our Superintendent told us that there would be no school funding, but said the school would support as many fundraisers as we needed. That was the only push I needed. I began brainstorming hundreds of schemes to fundraise that money. The thing that really saved us was weekly raffles. Every Monday we would begin selling tickets to a new raffle, and every Friday we would draw the winners. Prizes ranged from gift cards to personal songs. In just three months we raised over $3,000! We were so excited to be that close to our goal. By the time the competition deadline came we were only $2,000 away from our goal, but we had no idea how to fundraise that extra $2,000.


 My co-captain and I sat in the workshop dejectedly going over numbers to see how many last ditch fundraisers we could do to save the team. Unless we caught a “Hail Mary” we were not going to raise the money in time for the competition. Suddenly, it occurred to us that we still had a few items of value left, the robots.  The last thing we wanted to do was part with the very object that represented what we were trying to save, but it was the only thing we could do. We pitched the idea to the coaches, and although he was skeptical he knew it was the only option. We set up a raffle to sell the robot that in the previous year we had affectionately dubbed Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a part of the robotics family and nobody was happy to see him go, but it had to be done to save the program.


 For the week before the deadline we sold tickets like crazy. Everyone at the school bought as many tickets as their wallet would allow to own the robot. I even went home and emptied out my piggy bank to buy tickets. Each ticket was $5 and we sold over 800 tickets. It was the miracle that we were all praying for, but the night of the drawing we had a meeting to bid farewell to Rodriguez. It was a somber meeting, but there was an underlying elation that no one would address, the raffle had saved us. That day, we held the drawing right before school ended. We had our Superintendent do the honorary drawing, and when he pulled out the name he got the biggest smile on his face.


 The winner was one of our teachers, Mr. Ukranic. Everyone in the room instantly cheered up and some even burst into dance. Mr. Ukranic is one of the nicest teachers in the school and he was also rich. It turned out that he bought 70 tickets in an attempt to give us back the robot. When we talked to him to give him the robot, he told us he would never take it away from us, that it was our pride and joy. We tried to hug him, but he was not fond of that idea. He also said that it was not just his idea. The teachers had bought a majority of the tickets to donate to the team, and try to get the robot back to us. We decided that with the extra money we would get all the teachers a small gift of appreciation, a robot stuffed animal. They loved it!


 That raffle saved our team, and we couldn’t have been any more grateful.  That raffle impacted my life in a very positive way, and I am so glad that I participated. Raffles are a great way to help an organization, and they have impacted a lot of people. I will be continuing to run raffles for the rest of my time on the team as a mentor.

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Contributed by Margaret Wood