Fundraising efforts by O’Leary business honoured by Family Violence Prevention Services

Vinny’s Coffee & Pizza Shop has been recognized for its fundraising efforts for Family Violence Prevention Services. The business does a weekly 50/50 draw, with half of the proceeds going to the winner, and the other half going to the organization. To date, over $70,000 has been raised from the draw. From left to right: Karen McCarville, West Prince outreach coordinator for Family Violence Prevention Service, Lee Anne Hitchinson, owner of Vinny’s Coffee & Pizza Shop, and Danya O’Malley, executive director of PEI Family Violence Prevention Services.            Jillian Trainor photo

In the over 20 years Vinny’s Coffee & Pizza Shop has been doing it’s weekly 50/50 draw, the business has raised $70,000 for PEI Family Violence Prevention Services.

“We have people sometimes do something one time and say ‘Hey, I ran a fundraiser at our work, we made $1,500, we’d like it to go to you guys,’ and then there are people who run things year after year, and this is an example,” said Danya O’Malley, executive director of PEI Family Violence Prevention Services. “I don’t know of anything else as long-standing as this.”

In recognition of the business’s efforts over the years, PEI Family Violence Prevention Services has awarded Vinny’s a plaque of appreciation.

Ms O’Malley said when a person or group does something like this on the organization’s behalf, it has a big impact, adding that staff can put so much time, blood, sweat, and tears into running events, but things like that take an awful lot of staff time.

The organization is funded 70 per cent through the provincial government, so it has to raise the balance of that budget. Right now, their budget is about one million dollars a year, meaning about $300,000 has to be raised as a result. The organization does a lot of project funding, and might get $25,000 or $30,000, but the rest comes from things like events and donations, like the one at Vinny’s.

“It’s not a really big draw,” said Lee Anne Hutchison, owner of Vinny’s Coffee & Pizza Shop. “It’s probably 100 people a week who signs up, so that would be $50 a week.”

Though that might not seem like much, over the course of 52 weeks in a year, that total adds up to roughly $2,600. Ms Hutchinson said she’s surprised at how quickly the money has added up over the years.

The draw was started in 1998 when Valerie Smallman, the former West Prince outreach coordinator for Family Violence Prevention Services, approached the business to see if they would be interested in hosting the draw. Customers come into the restaurant every week to drop off a loonie and sign their name in the book at the register. If a person has signed up and their name is drawn, they win half the proceeds.

The draw is done every Friday at 6 pm, but if circumstances prevent it from happening, it takes place the next morning.

Ms Hutchinson said it feels great for Vinny’s to be recognized for its fundraising efforts, but recognition isn’t everything.

“I don’t really feel like I need to be rewarded,” she concluded. “It makes me feel good to be able to help something out.”

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