CLAREMONT — The stage in St. Mary’s gymnasium is set for the church’s Old-Time Penny Sale tonight, with over 300 prizes ready for raffle. The annual fundraiser, which church parishioners resurrected from dormancy five years ago, has become one St. Mary’s most popular events, drawing an average of 300 people.
Thousands of dollars in donated prizes will be raffled off during the night, including a grand prize of $1,500 in cash (or $1,200 if the winner is not present at the drawing). There will also be six door prizes, ranging from a 32-inch television, KitchenAid food processor and $50 gift cards to Hannaford and Market Basket supermarkets.
There will even be a free raffle for kids with over 50 gifts as prizes.
“The kids raffle is about goodwill,” said parishioner Norma Limoges, who co-organized this year’s penny sale with Albert St. Pierre of Charlestown. “The kids love it. And it gives people a break between the [main raffle] series to walk around or get some popcorn.”
To explain how the penny raffle works, prizes are distributed into three groups, called “series.” Each series has 100 prizes, each assigned a number from one to 100. Prizes range anywhere from a $100 dollar bill to a $25 gift card to a set of jumper cables.
“All the prizes are donated,” Limoges said. “They have to be new and at least $20 in value.”
People buy raffle tickets before each series. Once tickets are drawn for all the prizes in a series, people may purchase tickets for the next round.
Doors open at 5 p.m., where volunteers will sell hot dogs, meatball subs, mac and cheese and other items. The drawings start at 6 p.m.
Raffle tickets are $1 for one, $5 for six, $10 for 12 or $20 for 25. Tickets are only good for one series of prizes.
Proceeds fund St. Mary’s Church, which include its charitable programs.
“When one talks about funds for a church, it’s not just about a building,” Limoges said. “It’s also about people and goodwill.”