2006-06-28 15:18:11.693

Lottery Millionaires Celebrate 20 Years Of Contributions

Story Photo Twenty-nine Missouri Lottery-made millionaires and their families celebrated 20 years of fun, winning and contributions on June 27 by donating their time to the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City. The event was part of the 20th annual Millionaire’s Reunion, which was held in Central Missouri. It gave the millionaires a chance to give the local community something that is more valuable than money: their time. "We did a similar event in 2003 at Kansas City’s Harvesters Community Food Network," said Gary Gonder, director of communications for the Missouri Lottery. "It was a very successful event; the millionaires packaged more than 7,380 meals. They had fun, and it was a great way to give something back." Marylyn DeFeo, volunteer executive director for the Samaritan Center, said that while they often have volunteers from all walks of life, never have they had a group so unique. "The Lottery millionaires are setting a wonderful example for others," said DeFeo. "One of the most precious resources we have is our time. We’re grateful that these Lottery winners choose to spend their morning to help others less fortunate." Gonder added that the Samaritan Center is the fourth largest food pantry in the state of Missouri. Millionaires Reunion Group."Not only does the Samaritan Center provide food to more than 2,500 children and adults each month, it also provides a host of other vital services such as dental care and legal counseling," he said. "It’s a very worthwhile cause." The charitable event was just one of the activities planned for this year’s Millionaires Reunion. The millionaires will also participate in a round-table discussion of life changes that have occurred since their win. "Getting these winners together to exchange experiences and ideas is helpful for them," said Gonder. "It allows them to talk to others who have ’been there.’ Many of them become close friends and keep in touch with each other during the years." Gonder noted that the Missouri Lottery organizes these reunions, but the millionaires pay their own way at the event. The reunions, which move to different cities from year to year, provide a forum for the Lottery to educate winners about timely issues, such as choosing financial and legal assistance, personal security, tax changes, emotional well-being topics and many other issues. "The reunions are a great way for us to keep in touch with the winners to find out how their lives have changed, so we can counsel future winners," said Gonder. "They are also an opportunity for the local media to do stories about how winners’ lives change. And most of all, they are a great chance for the winner to meet other people who have had similar experiences." Since the Lottery began in January 1986, 215 Missouri Lottery jackpot tickets, ranging from $1 million to $224.2 million, have been sold. These jackpot prizes total more than $1.6 billion.

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