Catch the Ace and Group Play – A fun way to raise money!

Catch the Ace team

Dom and Boomer at The Esquire Club have been giving back to the Sault community for the last eleven years, donating close to $400,000 to local charities.

And they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

The Esquire’s latest fun-filled event, Catch the Ace, saw huge success last year, with $40,000 going to Big Brothers Big Sisters, and just over $29,000 going to the lucky winner of the draw.

Catch the Ace, a weekly progressive raffle, takes place every Sunday, with $5.00 tickets on sale – cash only – from 1:00pm – 4:00pm, and the draw takes place at 4:30pm.

More information on how this lottery works can be found here.

The Esquire has brought their generosity and dedication to the next level this time around, partnering with both the Group Health Centre (GHC) and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), who will split the proceeds.

Today, representatives from the Esquire, GHC, and BBBS took the time to share with me the new addition to Catch the Ace, which is Group Play.

Choosing this route, participants have a chance to win even if they cannot attend on Sunday. Teams of at least ten people – employees, friends, or family – can buy tickets as a group and divide the winnings between themselves. All the teams have to do is ensure that a “Group Captain” is present to purchase the tickets, pick the envelope, and claim the winnings.

All partners in Catch the Ace encourage participants to organize Group Play for your convenience and to increase your odds of taking home a chunk of cash, all while supporting two great causes.

The form to create a Group Play team can be found at the bottom of this article.

This is also an important element for the partners, because the Esquire Club does have a capacity. Domenica Braido, Manager and one of the owners of the Esquire Club, explained, “If we hit $50,000 in the progressive pot, we have to change venues. We can only have 220 people in here. We would have to start giving out bracelets. 220 people could stay and everyone after that would have to wait in the parking lot. If the ace isn’t gone and we hit $50,000, we have to move our venue down to the Tech, as they can hold 1500 people.”

However, moving locations would mean a lot of extra work and strain on Esquire staff, which is why they are promoting Group Play.

The Esquire is known as the home of ‘Catch the Ace’ lottery in our community – they would love to keep it this way.

Teresa Martone, Executive Director of the GHC Trust Fund, stressed the importance of Group Play, and the role that the team at the Esquire have played in giving back, “I really want people to know that the Esquire is driving Group Plays harder than all of us. But that only represents one person coming in for something to drink and eat, as opposed to the twenty-five that the Esquire would get if Group Play was not an option.” She continued, “it speaks to the fact that they really want to give back to the community and have Catch the Ace stay at this venue, because as soon as it leaves here, there is additional administrative costs, which comes directly out of the money that the charities receive.”

This has been a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Esquire staff and management, but one that they take on with pride and dedication. The administrative responsibilities and background work behind accessing the provincial license to sell unlimited tickets is no small feat. Braido admitted, “There is a lot more at stake coming from my end than for anyone else involved.”

In the previous Catch the Ace, the Esquire Club held a municipal license, which allowed them to sell a capped number of tickets throughout the duration of the lottery.

This provincial license allows for more people to play and ultimately for more money to be raised for the charities.

The only expense on the charities thus far has been the cost of getting tickets printed. While most venues would charge rent fees, making it difficult for charities to actually turn a profit, the Esquire offers this free of charge – in addition to taking on the administrative responsibilities involved in getting the license.

Braido clarified, “Some people think that the charities have gone out and got the licences to run Catch the Ace and we are just reaping the benefits of the bar, but that’s not the case. I have gone out to get the license as we have non-profit status ourselves, and we have invited Big Brothers and the Group Health to come on board and be recipients of the donations.”

The efforts of the Esquire Club have not gone unnoticed. Rebecca Bolton, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, explained, “For charities that run events, that receive no government funding, this is what we do all the time. So, to have an outside body come in and say, ‘let me take that off your plate so you don’t have to do the applications, the reporting – all you have to do is support!’ that means we can focus our efforts on other fundraisers so that we can continue to provide a much-needed service to our community.”

The social services that BBBS provides were kept running another year by the Esquire’s donation of $40,000 from Catch the Ace.

And in a fast-paced society, with numerous events, charities, things to do and people to see, it is difficult for charities to stand out and make the money that they need in order to keep their doors opened. It is also a lot of work, responsibility, and time commitment with the limited staff, budget, and resource that charities usually have.

Braido has always taken pride in her club supporting these local organizations, “When we took over eleven years ago, we were like okay, we have to give back. And we love to give back to charities that support families and kids, because kids are our future, you know?” She went on to explain, “I don’t have to find ways to raise money, I can do that through my bar and food. But we can give people something fun to do on a Sunday afternoon. Saultites give us money and we donate that money – I couldn’t ask for better patrons or a better clientele.”

As of last week, there is $14,200 guaranteed to split between GHC and BBBS. Last week’s small pot was $524, and the progressive pot is $8829, but it is expected to hit $10,000 after this Sunday.

The Esquire, BBBS, and GHC are extremely thankful the amazing staff at the Esquire, and especially for the local donors and supporters, who come together to raise funds and awareness for local needs. “Being in the north,” Braido explained, “it can be very difficult for charity organizations to compete and get money. It’s like pulling teeth. This is two good charities doing good work for our community, one medically and one socially, more so for kids. Everyone wins.”

So get your closest pals together and check out Group Play options – or come by on Sunday to buy tickets and give back to your local organizations.

Click here for more information on: the Esquire Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Group Health Centre Trust Fund.

The lottery license #9267.

Group Play
Group Play form! Just print, fill out, donate, and send your team captain to the Esquire this Sunday!