United Way fundraiser supports 26 community agencies


Go on vacation. Install a jacuzzi tub. Buy that designer bag you’ve been daydreaming about for weeks. These are all fun things you could do with an extra $100 grand. But winning United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s $100K Payday was a game-changer for Hattiesburg resident Leon Roberts.

From the first call on the night of the drawing, Roberts had a plan on how to spend his winnings –“I’m going to get a house!” 

“I was getting ready to go to my second job when I received the call,” Roberts said. “I was stunned. I was in shock. I could not believe that this had actually happened to me.” 

A long-time renter, the desire for a more sound, well-maintained house in a neighborhood closer to town had been weighing on Roberts for some time. 

“The night before the drawing I was up all night long, tossing and turning,” Roberts said. “I just kept praying.” Now even closer to his goal, Roberts is more than ready to become a homeowner, and that is exactly what he is currently looking to do.

That single ticket not only changed Roberts’ life, it impacted the lives of many others in the community. By participating in the $100K Payday raffle, you join United Way SEMS and its 26 partner agencies and programs in the fight for quality heath, education and financial stability of individuals and families.

One of 12 children, Roberts said he learned about the United Way $100K Payday raffle in 2016 when one of his sisters mentioned it to him. For three years, Roberts contributed to United Way SEMS by buying a $100 ticket, and, on his third try, he won. 

 “I guess you could say third time’s a charm,” Roberts said.

With the 2019 United Way $100K Payday already underway, now is your opportunity for a chance to win $100,000.

Tickets can be purchased in person at participating branches of Citizens Bank, Community Bank, Grand Bank, Hancock Whitney, Magnolia State Bank and Regions, or at local Corner Market and Sunflower grocery stores. Credit card payments are accepted at the United Way office and online at unitedwaypayday.org. 

March 10 will mark the last day to buy with the winner being drawn on March 18. Winners do not need to be present to win, but everyone is invited to the drawing at Keg and Barrel in downtown Hattiesburg.

“Go get [a ticket],” Roberts said. “Your luck will be as good as mine.”

17 years of Community Support

For the 18th year in a row, United Way of Southeast Mississippi is holding a raffle fundraiser. In 2002, United Way SEMS kicked off its first Home Raffle, selling $100 tickets to win a brand new home in Bent Creek subdivision. The winner, DeDe Shows, and her two sons would live in that house for the next 17 years. 

Over time, the fundraiser became known as Home Sweet Home Raffle and constructed 12 houses for 12 lucky winners. Some chose to live in the houses, others decided to sell it and spend the profit – like the winner in 2010 who paid off all four years of college loans. 

Fast-forward to 2014 when the decision was made to let winners choose between a new home or $100,000 cash. When supporters were asked which prize they’d take, United Way was met with an overwhelming response of, “I’d take the money!” So, in 2016 the fundraiser was reshaped to raffle off a $100,000 cash prize, and became known as United Way $100K Payday.  

Although elements of the raffle have changed through the years, the impact of a $100 ticket purchase has remained. 

Each ticket sold means more funds can be put back into community through United Way SEMS and its 26 partner agencies and programs. To most, that $100 ticket is a chance to win $100,000 and a fun way to show support– but it is so much more than that. 

Your ticket purchase could mean a homebound senior receives a month of hot meals. It could provide vital services to children and adult victims of sexual abuse. What if buying a ticket meant a child who could form words could receive language therapy sessions enabling him to speak?

So when you’re deciding if you should or shouldn’t buy a $100K Payday raffle ticket, or daydreaming about all the things you would do with the winnings, think about the difference your purchase will make.