Young entrepreneur raises $3,000 for Rural Aid with arcade games at The Wharf Mooloolaba

A 15-year-old entrepreneur has raised more than $3000 for Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program, after installing and managing arcade games at The Wharf Mooloolaba.

Sam Pilgrim started the business venture about 18 months ago, after convincing his father Philip to help him buy a second-hand machine so he could ‘tinker’ and repair it.

From that first purchase, Sam went on to purchase a second and both were installed rent-free at The Wharf Mooloolaba about one year ago, raising more than $3,000 for Rural Aid in that time.

The Wharf centre manager Benita Osborn, young entreprenuer Sam Pilgrim and Rural Aid donor relations manager Jason Castle.

Phil Pilgrim said Sam had developed a real interest in arcade games and used pocket money and asked for his Christmas present early to make the first purchase.

“Sam was really keen and has always been interested in how things work and fixing them, and it was a great opportunity to teach him about business so I put together a spreadsheet for him to monitor expenses and income and it has grown from there,” Phil Pilgrim said.

“Sam volunteers his time and then all profits go to Rural Aid.”

Sam said for as long as he could remember he had been interested in electronics and his interest in arcade games came from that.

“Claw machines are really good because they have lots of electronic components, so I love working on them.

“It was really hard to find out how to fix them, but I watched some videos online and then just tried different things until all the components were working properly. We initially got the second machine so we could use parts for the first but then I got them both working.

He said while he keeps a tally of income and expenses, he didn’t count his time.

“I don’t know how much time it is but with fixing and repairing the machines and going down weekly to check and restock the machines, it would be a lot – but it’s definitely all worth it.

“You can change the settings on the machines to make it more difficult, but I like to keep the games really fair, so people have more chances,” Sam said.

“I love going down and watching people win – I know I’ve helped make there day!” Sam said.

Sam said he had seen a lot of news about the drought and how farmers were struggling so he wanted to support them,

“They make food for all of us so it’s important that we help.

“To know that I have helped buy hundreds of bales is really awesome – and all from just two machines.”

The Wharf Mooloolaba co-owner Dirk Long said as soon as he heard about Sam’s idea to use the machines to raise money for drought relief, he offered The Wharf as a location.

“Coming from a rural background, I know the challenges producers face, and how those challenges become even worse with prolonged drought.

“So that, encouraging Sam in his endeavours and the fact that the kids, and some of the adults, love the machines made it perfect for us.

Rural Aid Donor Relations Manager Jason Castle said Sam’s donation and the story behind it was awesome.

“Stories like Sam’s, where kids are putting in the hard work to help producers really puts a smile on our dials,” Mr Castle said.

“It’s great for us and for the farmers who benefit, not only from the hundreds of bales Sam’s donations had funded but also by knowing that people on the Coast are supporting them.

“I used to play at The Wharf on weekends and the Coast is such a great environment, with higher than average rainfall so it’s often hard for people to believe that just an hour and a half west, people are really struggling because of the drought.

“We are really grateful to Sam and The Wharf Mooloolaba for their continuing support!”

So next time you’re down at The Wharf Mooloolaba, why not try the Claw machines yourselves and help Sam support drought affected producers – the machines are located near the courtyard.

For more information about The Wharf Mooloolaba – all the great eateries, boutiques and activities, like or follow @thewharfmooloolaba on Facebook and Instagram or visit

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