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A Raffle To Raise Money For College Tuition by Theodore Marquis

A Raffle To Raise Money For College Tuition by Theodore Marquis


While I was working for the phone company in my hometown they gave me the option of taking a layoff (I had been there 15 years) or to take a job in the Navajo Nation of Arizona as a Field Supervisor.

I was just beginning to feel the affects of my diabetes but I wasn't ready to retire so I took the job. It was tough living on the reservation, supervising 15 Navajo warriors and being one of the few Caucasians working there.

It took quite a while but I finally made a friend. He was an older Navajo gentleman who didn’t have any hate for white people in his heart. He owned and operated a small saddlery and leather shop on the reservation. After work and on weekends I would show up at his shop with a grape soda for him and me. We would sit and talk and laugh about all kinds of things.   

One day when I stopped by he had a frown on his face. I asked him what was wrong but he just wouldn’t say. I kept asking so finally he said “My granddaughter is graduating from High School this year and she wants to go to college. She has a few scholarships but not enough to pay for college. Her parents are very poor. They have 9 children besides my granddaughter to feed and clothe.” He said it broke his heart because he didn’t have the money to help.

He asked me for help and I thought and thought. Finally I looked out in the driveway.

My friend's 1956 Chevy pickup sat in the driveway. It was really nice with a wooden bed bottom and a dark green really nice paint job. I asked him why don’t you sell your truck. He said he thought about that too, but it was only worth about $10,000 and his granddaughter needed $25,000.

That's when I had an idea. I told him, let's do a raffle for the truck. We can go to all of the towns on the reservation where there are rodeos, flea markets and fairs and we could sell the raffle tickets.  He agreed.  

We had a small team of about 10 adults and teenagers. By the end of summer we had sold over $30,000 raffle tickets!

We held the raffle on the first of August and a very happy Navajo man won the truck of his dreams. My friend was so happy and proud that he had the money for his granddaughter to go to college. 

So was I.   

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Contributed by Theodore Marquis

July 21, 2015