MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- An Ontario-wide fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has left Colleen Spenard of St. Thomas, Ont. nearly $54,000 richer.

Spenard got the call Friday that she was the big winner, and she told BBBS she already knows how she'll spend it.

“I couldn’t believe I won, I was so excited, I was shaking. I never dreamed I would win but thought this was a great way to continue supporting our local Big Brothers Big Sisters. Now my kitchen renovation project just got bigger!”

The pandemic has hit BBBS hard, with the demand for service increasing, while fundraising events are far fewer, so a series of 50/50 raffles were launched.

Mike Hurry, executive director of BBBS Sarnia-Lambton, explained in a statement, “We’ve completed three raffles and are so pleased by the growing popularity of the initiative. There are a lot of folks out there who love to play raffles! We have had winners from Lindsay, Ottawa, Bowmanville, Kitchener and now St. Thomas.”

The organization says mental health challenges for youth have grown up to 300 per cent since the pandemic began, and mentors can provide much-needed support and an outlet to "laugh and have fun."

Tickets for the Bigger Together 50/50 draw start at $10, and more details are available here.