Besties JoAnn MacQueen and Marlisa Mercer won a million dollars playing the lottery. They immediately decided to keep the good vibes rolling by giving heaps and heaps of it away to the community. Identifying several causes and charities in their hometown of Orillia, in the Canadian province of Ontario, to give fat checks to, local news reports is making a huge difference.

First, MacQueen describes the moment she scanned her ticket at the Lotto Max machine at her neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart. There was no ring-a-ding-ding. Indeed there were no sounds at all. The screen simply read $1,000,000,00 and a free play. She recalls being stunned and began to shake; “it was pretty cool,” she remembers.

They donated varying amounts to places that MacQueen’s brother, who died recently due to alcoholism, might have accessed during his life, which included Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, the Orillia SPCA, and the Farley Foundation. This Ontario-based charity helps low-income pet owners take care of their animals.

They also donated to the Salvation Army, the Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign in Orillia, Mariposa House Hospice, the Comfie Cat Shelter, and the Sharing Place Food Center, which helps the economically disadvantaged get access to nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. “They are completely focused on how can they help to make this community a better place through this win,” Chris Peacock, executive director of the Sharing Place, told local news. “Not many people win a million bucks and have the core goal of spending it on others and improving this community.”

For the Comfie Cat Shelter, the $10,000 check they received was the fifth-highest donation in this no-kill shelter’s history. “It covers our vet bill for October, and it gives us money for more spay and neuters,” said shelter manager and founder Barb MacLeod, who described it as “fantastic” and bringing her to tears.

Orillia Matters reports that the pair plan to split the remainder among their family and friends and take care of some renovations.

By: Andy Corbley