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What started 10 years ago as a way to help needy Catholic schools has blossomed into a program that has put more than $7 million in the coffers of the schools.

“Every week, I would open a letter or get a call from another Catholic school in need,” said President J. Michael Belz. “We wanted to help them all, but their needs were great and our funds were limited. We put our heads together and the solution we came up with was the Catholic Schools Sweepstakes.”

The Catholic Life Directors display a check representing the amount of funds raised in the 2017 Catholic Schools Sweepstakes.

Since its beginning 10 years ago, 84 schools from 13 Texas dioceses have taken part in the program. In total, the program has raised more than $7 million dollars.

“Participating schools are only limited by the amount of money they can raise, instead of what we can give them,” he said. “The top school this year raised more than $50,000. In other years, that amount has exceeded $75,000.”

Catholic Life provides the prizes, the tickets, and marketing materials while students at participating schools sell tickets at $5 each. The ticket sales begin in the fall and close during Catholic Schools week held the last week of January.

In 2017, 59 Catholic Schools from11 Texas dioceses sold 190,594 tickets to raise $952,970.

“The schools get 100% of the funds and they get the money as the tickets are being sold,” said President Belz. “This lets the school put the money to work right away. Catholic Life earns no money from this program. We do it to support Catholic education.”

Sixty winners were drawn on Saturday, January 14th

at the Home Office in San Antonio. Justin Gamez of Corpus Christi, whose son is a student at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy in Corpus, was the grand prize winner. He had the choice of a 2017 Ford F150, a 2017 Ford Fusion or a $20,000 Prepaid VISA Credit Card as a prize. He selected the $20,000 Prepaid VISA Credit Card as a prize.

Additionally, each of the 59 participating schools had a $1,000 Prepaid VISA Credit Card winner drawn from the tickets that they sold.

The schools are very grateful for the program,” said program administrator Barbara Cheaney. “They use the funds for a variety of programs, but mostly to enhance operations and to provide tuition assistance.”

Our Agents play a key role in the program. They pick up tickets from the schools, provide additional prizes and educate the schools about Catholic Life Insurance.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of the Sweepstakes. Our goals are to grow the number of schools who participate and the amount of money being raised,” added Belz. “It is the right thing for Catholic Life to be doing, particularly in today’s economy.”

If your Catholic school is interested in participating in the 2018 Sweepstakes, please contact Barbara Cheaney at (210) 828-9921 or email her at branch@cliu.com. The deadline to sign up for the program is June 15, 2017.