Every Dollar is Valuable in Charitable Bingo

By Ben Hamill - March 29, 2016
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The people of Revelstoke, BC packed the local Taco House to play bingo in support of the Revelstoke Adaptive Program.  This fine initiative helps people with physical or mental barriers to get on the ski slopes at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.  The fund raiser pulled in $3700.

Small is Big

This might not seem like a big sum but it demonstrates the power of bingo as a fund raising vehicle. Had volunteers gone door to door they may have raised a similar sum but maybe not.  One wealthy donor can contribute a multiple of the money raised at the bingo event.  But bingo draws people out because it is intended as a fun way to spend the evening.  Getting lucky and winning a little was a secondary goal for the people who attended the games.

The money raised will be used to raise awareness and purchase equipment.

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Out of Tragedy

Just as a horrible auto accident was the spark that led Strathcona High School students to become top flight fundraisers (as I reported last time), so the Revelstoke Adaptive Program was born of a snowboarding accident that turned a healthy snowboarder into a quadriplegic.

The accident occurred six years ago. Jeff Scott landed awkwardly and fractured two vertebrae.  He spent one and a half years in rehabilitation and various surgeries.  He was not daunted by his misfortune; he established Live it! Love it! based in Victoria to help disabled persons and the Revelstoke Adaptive Program was born through Live it! Love it!

Recognizing a Need and Creating Something Great

Ron Glave, director of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort, says that he and others at the resort recognized the need for a program to help the disabled enjoy skiing and snowboarding.  Glave says that every mature ski resort has an adaptive program now; this a mere four years after the Revelstoke Adaptive Program was begun.

Bingo, of course, has a very small role to play in the success of the adaptive program but bingo’s ability to draw people out to “gamble” for fun and charity also means that this and many other good causes become “publicized” through bingo.

An adaptive program is important at a ski resort because many people come to the resort with a group.  Sometimes one or more group members has a physical or mental disability that requires the special assistance the Revelstoke Adaptive Program provides.

We Live in a Brave New World

I may be an old-fashioned woman but my bailiwick is charitable bingo and when it comes to charitable bingo, I report the news.  The Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US sponsors “OUTrageous Bingo” to help raise money for causes dear to its heart.  These causes include Healthcare for the Homeless, UPMC Adolescent, Shepherd Wellness, the James Fisherkiller Library which has over 9000 volumes of interest to the LGBT community, Rodef Shalom, and Respect.

Respect is a program that targets the under-25 demographic emphasizing non-violent relationships and responsible alcohol use.  OUTrageous Bingo is completely alcohol free, enabling players to connect and network outside of the gay bar scene.

Bingo! Oops!

Buzzword Bingo is a bingo variant popular especially with youthful high tech sorts.  Every participant is given a card that has been randomly generated by a computer.  The card has buzzwords or initials that are repeated in meetings at the company.  Buzzword Bingo is then played like regular bingo; when a buzzword id spoken you can “daub” it.

There are stories, apocryphal or not, of winners jumping up and yelling Bingo in the middle of important meetings.

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What Will the Future Hold for Charitable Bingo

Charitable bingo is experiencing something of a revival owing mostly to the electronification of bingo centres.  You can go to bingo centres and play bingo the old-fashioned way or electronically.  As I’ve said before, I’m not very optimistic long term that this will be the boon its supporters say it’ll be.  In the short term, many bingo centres that might have closed are getting some much needed oxygen.

I don’t have any sure-fire solutions to the crisis in charitable bingo.  But as I showed last time in the story about Strathcona High School and this time regarding the Revelstoke Adaptive Program and OUTrageous Bingo in Pittsburgh, communities do still have the chance to use bingo as a vital and viable money-raising tool.  There must be a way to motivate communities to help themselves without turning bingo centres into mini-casinos.

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