‘Miracle on Canal Street’ benefits kids with $1 million

Potawatomi Bingo Casino distributed more than $1 million among more than 150 area nonprofit organizations last Friday through its 20th annual “Miracle on Canal Street” charity program.

Since it launched in 1994, the casino’s signature charity program has donated more than $13.6 million to organizations and programs focused on improving quality of life for children in southeastern Wisconsin.

“(The Potawatomi Tribe has) a tradition of nurturing younger generations so they go on to lead healthy and productive lives, and we want to carry that tradition on here at the casino,” said Ryan Amundson, external communications manager for Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

The “Miracle” program’s fundraising mechanism is primarily driven by special bingo games held at the casino each August through December. Within these $3 games, half of funds are directed into the “Miracle” pot.

Additional fundraising for the 2013 program was facilitated through drink specials on the casino floor as well as through “Miracle” poker tournaments.

While one-third of total funds distributed this year benefitted 10 signature charities designated by the casino’s media partners in August, another third of funds went to 10 charities randomly selected and announced on Friday. Each of these charity recipients walked away with more than $35,800.

In honor of “Miracle on Canal Street” 20th anniversary, the final third of funds was divvied up into $2,600 donations among the remaining participating organizations that were not selected by media partners or at random – 136 total.

This new element was announced at Friday’s program celebration, to the surprise of all participating charities.

“They weren’t expecting that money, and there (are) a number of them who came up to me afterwards and were so thankful and so happy that they could go back to their organizations with a…check to do what they do so well,” Amundson said.

This year’s 10 signature charity winners and 10 randomly selected winners included: Arts @ Large, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Racine & Kenosha Counties, Civic Music Association of Milwaukee, COA Youth & Family Centers, Fondy Food Center, Hunger Task Force, Meta House, Milwaukee Center for Independence, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, Milwaukee Public Museum, New Concept Self Development Center, Nova Services, Outreach Community Health Centers, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin, SHARP Literacy, Special Spaces-Wisconsin, Urban Ecology Center, Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center and Waukesha Community Art Project.

“We were just thrilled that we could donate this amount of money to so many really, really good organizations around southeastern Wisconsin doing good work for kids,” Amundson said. “And I think the nice thing is…the diversity of the charities that are going to be benefitting this year is phenomenal.”

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