By Trevor Busch
With dropping sales figures compared with previous years for their annual lottery in 2017, STARS Air Ambulance is trying to drum up last-minute support in the lead up to a March 22 deadline.
“The trends show that we are significantly behind where we were last year, which was a particularly tough year for the lottery. Last year, the last ticket was sold the day of the cut-off date,” said Fatima Khawaja, a spokesperson with STARS. “This year marks the 24th STARS Lottery in Alberta, and with the vital support of each of you, we have been so fortunate to sell out all of our previous 23 lotteries. STARS was founded through grassroots support of Albertans and we are hopeful they will help us be there for the next patient. That’s why we are urging Albertans to purchase their lottery tickets.”
While Albertans are still feeling the effects of an economic downturn which has contributed to a decline in ticket sales, Khawaja noted emergency situations are unaffected by economic concerns.
“Everyone is feeling the effect of the economic downturn and we, at STARS, are, too. The reality is, emergencies never take breaks, regardless of the economic climate. We’re flying an average of five missions a day from our bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Last year, STARS flew more than 1,800 missions from our three Alberta bases to approximately 250 communities, nine of which were Taber.”
A huge proportion of operational and other expenditures for STARS are influenced by lottery sales and contributions.
“The STARS lottery is our single largest fundraiser and has a 23-year history in the province. It is the only charitable home lottery in Canada to set records by selling out every year since it began. STARS operates from three bases in the province of Alberta. As a not-for-profit, one-third of STARS’ operating budget is funded by lottery revenue, which netted more than $11 million in 2016. In other words, this lottery funds one base’s operating costs for a year,” said Khawaja.
In Taber and area, important financial contributions are delivered to the service on an annual basis through the STARS Charity Auction.
“Eighty per cent of STARS’ funding in Alberta comes from fundraising and community partnerships,” said Khawaja. “The incredible ongoing support of the community helps us continually enhance our innovative and leading-edge air medical programs and service. STARS was created by the grassroots support of Albertans more than three decades ago, where people bought baseball caps from the back of the helicopter and raised donations with bake sales and lemonade stands.”
“Today, we continue to rely on the support of Albertans to help STARS get to the next patient that needs us.”
“The Taber Auction in support of STARS started in 1996 and to date has raised more than $647,000. We are so grateful for your steadfast support.”
Public support of STARS Air Ambulance is vital for the organization to maintain the high levels of support and care it needs to be successful, according to Khawaja.
“Funding is met through donations received from individuals, service groups, business and corporations, municipalities, and through collaborative agreements with AHS, who are a valued partner. Our bulk of funding comes from the people of Alberta, and this is why we are counting on public support with the STARS lottery. We are a not-for-profit organization, focused on serving critically ill and injured patients, but can’t do this without the support of Albertans. STARS is woven into the fabric of the community. Every single ticket sold in this lottery saves lives. The next time you see one of our red helicopters go by on its way to a mission, know that you helped make that mission possible.”
For the STARS Lottery, final ticket sale cut-off is March 22. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.starslotteryalberta.ca or call 1-888-880-0992. To make a donation, please visit http://www.stars.ca/ab/how-to-help/ways-to-donate.