Pete Weaver worked as chief executive officer of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County for 18 years where he ran a successful car raffle each year. When he retired he and his wife, Deedie (Dobarro) Weaver, moved back to her native Atlantic City where he now volunteers as the chairman of the BBBS of Atlantic and Cape May Counties' car raffle.

"I really respect the work that (CEO) Beatrix Jerkins is doing down here on a shoestring budget," Weaver said of the local BBBS group. "It is difficult to sell tickets that are $100 each."

This year the group is offering the option of several cars, including a BMW convertible or two Hondas to appeal to a wide range of ticket buyers and to allow buyers to split tickets. But Weaver is quick to point out that the incentive for buying a ticket is also to support a good cause, not expect to win a car.

Weaver said it's tougher to sell tickets in southern New Jersey than in Princeton, but so far about half have been sold. The group pays for the car, so only keeps the amount they sell over about $50,000.

A native of western Pennsylvania, Weaver started his career as a teacher, and later became a guidance counselor. He worked for General Electric in sales for a time before realizing he still wanted to work with young people. The BBBS job gave him that chance. He said it is gratifying to watch young people grow up to be successful with the support of their big brother or sister.

Jerkins, of Egg Harbor City, said that in recent years the local BBBS group has lost about $125,000 in government grants because of budget cuts. The group now relies much more heavily on donations and fundraising. The staff has been cut from 11 to 3.5 and currently about 200 children are mentored. The group also runs several school-based programs, but currently is taking no new children because they don't have the staff to supervise. She said she is grateful to have Weaver and his experience.

"No money, no matches," Jerkins said. "That's why fund-raising is so important."

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Car raffle

Tickets for the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlantic and Cape May County Car Raffle available by calling 609-573-5029 or online at Tickets are $100 and only 1,399 will be sold. The winner will have a choice of a BMW 328i convertible, Acura MDX Tech, Acura RLX, Two Honda CR-V LX's, or One Honda CR-V LX and One Honda Accord EX. Drawing is 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Smithville Irish Festival.