EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally said half the pot goes to the Mustard Seed. Global News later confirmed through a spokesperson for Oilers Entertainment Group that half the pot is split between the Mustard Seed, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and AGLC-approved expenses. An exact figure of how much the Mustard Seed itself will receive was not provided. The story has been updated to clarify how the payout works.
As the Edmonton Oilers kept scoring goals en route to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at Rogers Place on Tuesday night, the team’s fans kept buying tickets for the NHL club’s 50/50 draw and raised a staggering amount of money for an organization that works with poverty-stricken people in Alberta’s capital.
“That is as large of a lump sum as we’ve seen in Edmonton outside of a few bequeaths that we’ve gotten over the years,” Dean Kurpjuweit, the executive director at The Mustard Seed Edmonton, said of Tuesday night’s draw which will benefit the charity.
Tuesday’s 50/50 draw ended up raising over $1.62 million, a number that the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation said is a record-high for the 2021 season so far.
Half the pot goes to the fan who bought the winning ticket while the other half is split between the Mustard Seed, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and AGLC-approved expenses.
Kurpjuweit said as he saw the numbers climb Tuesday night, he began to wonder how high they would go.
“(I started to wonder) what’s the ceiling here?” he told Global News. “Because all our expectations… continued to get passed and then there was just excitement.
“And then you kind of move to this place of feeling a great weight of responsibility. It means Edmontonians are trusting us to use that money to help our clients and to help them in a way that will ensure that they can move on to a place of independence and wellness.”
Kurpjuweit said the prevalence of homelessness in Edmonton has been increasing exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“There’s an increase in homelessness,” he said. “There’s certainly an increase of people who are living kind of right on that poverty line — and below that poverty line.
“We just continue to be able to step into those gaps… This cash allows us to fill even more gaps.”
Watch below: Some Global News videos about homelessness in Edmonton.
Kurpjuweit said he wants Edmontonians to know the money they raised for the Mustard Seed will go directly to those who need it most.
“It’s not going to go to overhead, it’s not going to go to administration,” he said. “It’s going to be direct client work and making sure people who are hungry are fed… get clothing… wellness services — and meeting with advocates and finding housing — all that kind of direct client work.”
Like businesses, Kurpjuweit said civil society groups have had to pivot during the pandemic in order to find ways to continue to raise money and also to deliver their services.
“It has been an interesting year for all charities,” he said. “We’re just fortunate that this money helps us to continue that work and to give us kind of a base and a foundation to continue doing what we’re doing.
“We sat there stunned last night.”
Watch below: Some Global News videos about 50/50 draws in Edmonton.