li-havre-boucher-community centre

A fundraiser for the Havre Boucher Community Centre has raised more than $200,000 in less than one year. The money will be used to maintain the centre. (

The community of Havre Boucher has become a popular place on Friday nights. Last week about 1,400 people showed up to take part in the Chase the Ace card game fundraiser to maintain the local community centre.

The estimated jackpot for Friday, May 30 is up to $153,000.

Len Robertson, the chair of Havre Bouchard and Area Cultural, Development and Recreation Centre, helps organize Chase the Ace.

He said they can accommodate about 500 people in the main hall.

"The ones who don't get in there, we have a tent outside and that will keep them out of the weather. We use the basement of our church to house another hundred or so. The rest they have to sit in their car or stand outside." 

That's a lot of activity in a village that Statistics Canada said only had 289 people living there as of 2011. 

Each week a ticket wins 20 per cent of the jackpot.

The winner then takes a playing card from a deck. The ace of spades is worth another 30 per cent. But if the ace isn't drawn, the jackpot increases for the next week.

Any card that's drawn is destroyed and each week the pack of 52 cards gets smaller and the chances of winning big increases. 

Now the estimated jackpot is up to $153,000. 

Before the draw there's drinks, food, and games inside the hall. 

Robertson said people from all over are buying tickets to be part of the fundraiser. 

He said the money is coming from Halifax, Guysborough, Sydney and out west.

"There's a lot of money emailed to parents and brothers and sisters. 'Go buy me a ticket for tonight for tonight's jackpot.'"

Robertson said last week they sold 57,000 tickets. 

Eleanor Anderson is a funding expert at Cape Breton University. 

She's helped raise more than $3 million in fundraising and sponsorship for Cape Breton not-for-profit groups and charities. 

"This community has done everything right. They have a great cause that the community rallies around and they're not just relying on those 289 people," she said. "They've expanded their reach to surrounding counties and even as far as Alberta."

"So they're generating dollars coming into that community that wouldn't normally be there and that's the sign of a successful fundraiser," said Anderson.

Robertson says he's proud of how his community and the surrounding area have come together to support the fundraiser. 

He says some organizers want to donate some of the $200,000 they raised to other community groups.