Only hours after James Favel bemoaned where he’d find the money to help Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol, he got a cheque and a handshake he never expected.

“Just like that,” he said, “our whole organization changed.”

The volunteer group patrolling Winnipeg’s toughest streets collected a $50,000 donation from Kirby and Marie Fontaine — millionaires who have quietly been divvying up their $50 million lottery win since they won the Lotto Max in 2009.

The couple from Sagkeeng First Nation has been known to pop up unexpectedly to aid worthy causes in Manitoba.

Donors don’t seek attention

Favel had been discussing money woes with some of Bear Clan’s directors on Wednesday morning, he said, but then at 1:50 p.m. he got a phone call that would change those problems.

The head of Bear Clan was told to return to his office. The meeting was brief, maybe five minutes long, but it left Favel in disbelief.

“I’d never seen anything like that before, somebody who just comes in and cuts a cheque for a large sum of money and just drops it off and walks away,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.

“They didn’t really seek any kind of attention. They were just there to do what they’re doing and it seemed like, you know, kind of an everyday thing.”

The Bear Clan was a recipient of the couple’s generosity a year ago, when Favel crossed paths with Kirby at a Winnipeg A&W and left with an impromptu $1,000 donation.

Favel expects to funnel the latest gift toward staffing costs. Bear Clan now has eight full- and part-time staff members supporting a non-profit with 5,000 volunteers in Winnipeg alone, he said.

“They’re just not what you’d expect for someone with that kind of cash,” Favel said of the couple. “I feel it’s like they’ve never left the ‘hood.”

Numerous charities have benefited from the Fontaines’ charity in past years, often on the same day. It is not immediately known if other non-profits received donations Wednesday.

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