© Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now
Matching the numbers on the stickers to the numbers on the master sheets is one of the many tasks volunteers perform every Tuesday night at Amherst Stadium as part of the Ramblers 50/50 Toonie Draw. Removing stickers from the toonies and sticking them on the corresponding numbers is (from left) volunteer Tanya Reid, Ramblers 1st vice-president Keith Blenkhorn, and Ramblers treasurer, Linda Duguay.
AMHERST - Tables of Toonies pile up every Tuesday night at Amherst Stadium.
“About 10 of us come here every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.,” said Keith Blenkhorn, first vice president of the Maritime Hockey Leagues Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers.
“The toonies are sorted, the stickers are taken off and put on our master sheets, and then the disk is drawn,”
What does all this mean? Well, last week it meant $10,219 to Harold Matheson.
Last week Matheson played the Ramblers 50/50 Toonie Draw for only the second time.
He went to Ken’s Rite Stop, wrote his number on a small sticker, stuck it to a toonie and dropped it in a wooden box with the Ramblers logo on it.
“There are 33 boxes in the Cumberland County,” said Blenkhorn. “About 20 of them are in Amherst.”
A total of more than 2,100 toonies were dropped in those 33 boxes for last weeks’ record-sized draw.
To play the game, Matheson, like everybody else, fills out a form with their name and phone number, and then is issued a number.
“When they register the number on the form it’s their number for life,” said Blenkhorn.
That number is put on a disk and the disk is placed in a drum from which the disks are drawn.
A lot of work is done from the moment a box is emptied of toonies at a store up to the moment a number is drawn from the draw drum, to be exact, about 70 hours of labour.
“On Tuesday afternoon two people go out into the county to pick the toonies,” said Blenkhorn. “We have one guy in the county and one in town, although the person in county also helps in the town. It takes about five or six hours for them to go out and collect the boxes.”
The Toonies are brought to Amherst Stadium, hauled upstairs, and then the toonies are sorted into the numbers that are on the toonie.
More than 6,000 people have registered to play the game, so the numbers run from one to more than 6,000.
“We put all the 100s together, all the 200s, all the 300s together...” said Blenkhorn.
“We have approximately 6,000 people registered but we’re getting about 33 per cent of the people playing. We’d like to get that number up.”
After all the stickers with the numbers on them are peeled from the toonies and transferred to the master sheets, a disk is drawn from the drum and matched with a number. The winner is called and asked to claim their prize.
If there is no number matching the number on the disk then the draw is carried over to the next week.
The toonies are rolled up and taken to the bank the next day by Linda Duguay, Ramblers treasurer.
Because so many people played last week, and because there were so many new people registered, the volunteers never finished until late last Tuesday.
“It usually takes us a couple hours but we didn’t finish last Tuesday until about 10 p.m.,” said Jim Henwood, Ramblers president.
Blenkhorn says the Ramblers wish more people would play their numbers every week.
A Toonie draw is also held in Truro for the Big Brothers and Sisters organization, and at the Boys and Girls Club in Charlottetown.
“The Island gets about 60 per cent of registered people playing every week and Truro’s running about 50 per cent.”
Sixty to 80 new people register to play every week, but last week they had about 200 new people register.
One thing some people do to increase their chance of winning is to register their name with more than one number.
Blenkhorn says they’ve had people register up to 20 numbers.
Part of the problem with that is that the people with the 20 numbers will likely only play all those numbers when the pot gets high, meanwhile it will mean less winners because there will be a lot of numbers in the drum that aren’t played.
This is the second year the Ramblers have held the toonie draw.
“Our first year we grossed approximately $45,000 for the Ramblers, before expenses. We netted $35 to $40 thousand,” said Blenkhorn.
When they started the draw they were bringing in $400 a week, now they’re bringing in about $2,000 a week.
“Next year it could net us $80 or $90 thousand,” said Blenkhorn.
The money is used to help with the running of the Ramblers.
“We’re really stressing education, and we’d like to help a player pay for their education,” said Blenkhorn.
The Ramblers are looking for volunteers to help with the toonie draw on Tuesday evenings.
For more information, or anybody wishing to volunteer can call 667-0889.