Don’t Let Local Bingo Die!


Lately, I have been hearing a lot of news about bingo halls being closed down in a number of communities across the U.S. and, to tell you the truth, I am seriously bummed out about it. Why? Well, it is not because I love bingo, but because bingo events are one of the last collective activities that actually worries about giving back to the community and helping those people in need.

When I go to live bingo events, even if I do not win a penny, I always leave with a smile in my face knowing that I have cooperated to make other lives a little bit easier. Bingo has saved schools, has taken native communities out of poverty, and has even helped little children with their reading difficulties. These stories prove how bingo is truly a transforming force in the community:

44 years of keeping classrooms open

In the 1970s, St Patrick’s school was at the verge of closing its doors forever. A handful of distressed parents got together and started Saturday Bingo Nights as a fundraiser to keep the school open. The plan worked wonders and since 1974, every Saturday people have gathered for a night of bingo, good food and laughs. Just recently, the five volunteers that have helped the initiative since the beginning were honored in a beautiful ceremony.

One of the honorees, Benjamin Schwab, was deeply touched by the ceremony: “I felt honored that they recognized that I did so much for them … I felt it was my duty, it just feels great that I’m still able to do what I do and help out.”

Oneida’s Bingo Queens saved a whole tribe

In 1976, the Oneida Civic Center was going through some rough financial times and help was nowhere to be found. Half of the tribe population was living in dire poverty when Sandy Ninham and Alma Webster came up with the idea of creating bingo gatherings at the Oneida civic center. With the help of other women in the community, these bingo nights not only saved the community center, but also started funding health and housing services for the senior citizens and the poor. Little by little, the game fortified the Oneida community and invigorated its economy. This enterprise also served as an inspiration for other tribal gaming enterprises across Wisconsin. The amazing story of these women has been narrated in a new book called: The Bingo Queens of Oneida.

A-B-C is simple as B-I-N-G-O

Bingo teaching initiatives have also helped in the betterment of a community if children that presented reading impediments in the Alexandria-Monroe Elementary School. This teaching institution developed a program called “Bingo for Books”. This program is part of a federal initiative to help students with educational risks. A teacher in this school came up with the initiative to organize bingo nights for the parents and students in order to help more than 40 kids level up on their reading. Instead of numbers, they call out words and the kids need to find them in their cards.

The winners get to choose fun books to take home and practice. Needless to say, the level of the children has improved tremendously since the project started, since they also play with their parents at home. Candice Rominger, mother of 6 year old Larissa, says, “Before she got into the program she was very frustrated with reading and homework and that sort of thing … Now that she’s been in the program even a few weeks, we play games with sight words and things to help her read. She’s much more excited to read.”

However, none of these activities will continue to emerge and positively transform the communities if we do not go out and give them our support. I hope that reading these inspiring stories motivates you to try out your local bingo events! Let’s save Bingo so it can continue to save and improve lives!