Best Friends Win the Lottery, Decide to Spread the Wealth to Their Community

JoAnn MacQueen and Merlisa Mercer, lottery winners, donating to Comfie Cat Shelter

JoAnn MacQueen went to the grocery store to buy some raspberries and ended up leaving with $1 million. And what did her and her friend Marlisa Mercer decide to do before they even got their hands on the money? They made a pact to give it back to their community.

MacQueen and Mercer, friends for over 35 years now, play the lottery when the prize is big. When MacQueen decided on a whim to check their ticket at the store, she was absolutely shocked. “I saw the Big Winner screen but didn't think we actually won,” MacQueen explained. “When the clerk told me OLG was calling, I said, ‘But I have raspberries,’” she laughed. “I was so shaken I brought the grocery cart out to my car for two packs of raspberries. Then I called Marlisa.” When she heard the news, Mercer said, “I told [MacQueen] to go home and lock the door now!”

When the two won the money back in August 2022, they had already decided they would be using it to give back to their Orillia, Ontario community. The pair wanted to honor MacQueen’s brother, who had recently passed away due to alcoholism, so they donated to places he might have accessed in his lifetime. These organizations include Orilla Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Lighthouse, the Salvation Army, the Orillia SPCA, the Farley Foundation, the Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign in Orillia, and the Mariposa House Hospice. These organizations work to help the community’s veterans, animals, and lower-income citizens.

Executive director of The Sharing Place Food Centre, Chris Peacock, is very grateful for the $10,000 donation. With inflation rising and the holiday season in full swing, their early November charity was very welcome. “These are the types of donations that really elevate an organization,” he said. “It's a big deal.”

The pair donated another $10,000 to the Comfie Cat Shelter. “I like that they are a no-kill shelter,” MacQueen stated. “I think that they get overlooked because they are independent and don’t have a lot of backing.” The shelter was also relieved with the two’s donation, which is the one of the top five biggest donations they have received. “We were really low on funds,” shelter and manager, Barb MacLeod, said. “We’ve been having a rough few weeks with people surrendering cats to us that were not healthy. This takes a big load off us.”

“They are completely focused on how can they help to make this community a better place through this win,” Peacock said. “Not many people win a million bucks and have the core goal of spending it on others and improving this community.”

After helping their community out, the two will divide the rest of their winnings to family and friends. Mercer also plans on using some of her earnings for home renovations. She says, “I will treat myself to some hardwood floors and landscaping.” MacQueen simply states, “It makes us feel great that we are able to do this.”

When JoAnn MacQueen and Marlisa Mercer won $1 million, they had already decided what they were going to do before they even got their hands on the money: give it back to their community.

They donated thousands of dollars to many local organizations that work with the community's veterans, animals, and lower-income citizens.

MacQueen simply states, “It makes us feel great that we are able to do this.”

h/t: [Good News Network]

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Madyson DeJausserand

Madyson DeJausserand is a Video Editor at My Modern Met Academy and a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. She is also an award-winning filmmaker who graduated from Oakland University with a BA in Cinema Studies with a specialization in Filmmaking. Her passions for filmmaking and art bleed into her everyday life and she devotes her time to developing her voice as a filmmaker, writer, artist, and editor.
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