Despite the massively popular Queen of Hearts raffle that provided much-needed income to the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, the organization still is facing financial challenges, VFW Cmdr. Dwane Lungren said.
The local nonprofit, 3002 Route 120 in McHenry, already has spent a significant portion of the money it made from the raffle that drew thousands of people to the area, Lungren said.
When the raffle ended in September, the organization collected 20 percent, or $1,416,106, of the $7,080,528 pot.
“We’re still broke,” Lungren said. “The $1.4 million is going to fix the place. The money’s already spent. People think we’re aflush with cash, and we’re not. We estimated that it’s going to cost at least $3 million to get things how we want.”
Lori Skoniecke of Schaumburg won 60 percent of the pot – about $2.8 million – after her ticket was plucked from a giant horse trough that housed 2.3 million tickets.
The next game, with 54 new tickets, will begin in the spring. When it does,
20 percent of the final pot from the earlier game, along with the ticket sales revenue from its final week, will go toward the opening pot of the next game.
The pot will start at $3,412,059.
When the next raffle starts, Lungren said, he hopes it garners similar attention and enthusiasm so people buy tickets – along with beer and food.
Changes for the next round will be finalized later this month.
“Business has dropped off again,” Lungren said, adding that the organization “can’t touch” the money for the next raffle. “We are still a not-for-profit and do not make money. ... The money we make here is so we can survive.”
The nonprofit occupies a building that was constructed in 1949. Lungren said a new concrete parking lot cost about $900,000 and a 12-foot privacy fence on the west side of the property cost $5,000. He said getting the building up to code, adding a retention pond, installing a sprinkler system, replacing broken equipment and fixing bathroom stalls and fixtures costs thousands more.
“Nobody got raises, nobody got bonuses,” he said, adding that it cost “a lot” to pay McHenry police to provide additional security at the site when the raffle entered its final weeks. “We still have to go out to the public with our hands out.”
Lungren said the organization remains committed to helping local veterans and is being responsible with its money.
“We have long-term veterans programs,” he said.
He highlighted the VFW’s efforts to support TLS Veterans, which he said assists hundreds of local veterans in need.