Non-profit Uses Bingo to Make Giving Back Fun

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You may already know the game, but you’ve probably never seen bingo in quite the same way as this special soup kitchen does it. It is certainly familiar of a normal bingo game, with the sound of rolling balls and the steady calling of numbers, but, on Tuesdays at Our Daily Bread in Cincinnati, bingo is used as a fun, respectful tool to help meet the needs of people throughout the community.

By shouting out, “Bingo,” winners receive important prizes, such as toiletries and packaged food, to help make life a little bit easier after they leave. Whether the game is for soap, toilet paper, rolls of deodorant or a can of tuna, Our Daily Bread creates a fun and socially interactive experience to improve the lives of some people who could really use it.

“It’s a lot of fun for the folks to play,” said Cookie Vogelpohl, founder of Our Daily Bread. “It brings a little sunshine into some lives of people who have had hard times.”

While the prizes are a nice bonus, especially during a tough stretch, players didn’t hesitate when asked what drew them to the game. “If I don’t bingo, I don’t bingo,” said Gloria Anderson, a visitor to Our Daily Bread. “I’m here to play and have fun and see my girlfriends.”

That sentiment echoes throughout the players of the bingo game, with both regulars and newcomers welcome to participate since the very first game 18 years ago. The inventive way to help people is described as a perfect reflection of what has been happening at Our Daily Bread for years. The nonprofit serves more than 400 meals per day to those who need it most. “We’ve been blessed,” said Vogelphol, “it’s like a miracle every day.”

From its roots, Our Daily Bread is designed to help people while making them feel special and important. While the majority of bingo players come for the free mid-day meal, there are plenty of special touches to help brighten their day all week long. For example, one group of volunteers, known as the ‘flower ladies’, makes fresh flower arrangements for each table, while another group makes cakes for people who come in on their birthday.

The unique level of compassion and generosity doesn’t go unnoticed by Our Daily Bread’s frequent visitors. “It helps me more than you know,” said Jerome Burton, a bingo player at the uniquely hospitable dining hall. “You have the macaroni with the tuna fish, now you have yourself a meal. You don’t like that, you’ve never been hungry,” he said, looking over his winnings.

The women who run this unique bingo game have been doing so for years. They often collect prizes from friends, neighbors and churches in order to supplement donations and help those in need. “It gives me sense of contributing,” said Margaret Grizzard, a retired teacher who has been volunteering at Our Daily Bread for nearly two decades. “I’ve been very, very lucky, so I try to give back.”

Whether to have a fun visit with friends or a chance at winning some truly helpful prizes, players at the weekly bingo game at Our Daily Bread are consistently grateful for the nonprofit’s dedication to helping.