By Brandon HENSLEY
On Friday, the community is invited to take part in the fourth annual Veterans Community Bingo Night. The event, which starts at 6 p.m., is a joint effort by the American Legion Post 288 and VFW 1614 and will include pizza, cookies and soda for sale.
Of course, the main reason to come is to play bingo and raise money for veterans programs.
Bingo night, held at Holy Redeemer’s Healy Hall, is one of two main fundraisers held by the Legion and VFW and in years past they’ve given to specific military units overseas, including hundreds of dollars in Amazon gift cards as well as food.
This year, money from bingo night will be targeted to local men and woman who are currently serving, deployed or not.
“We’re in the process of trying to identify the men and women from La Crescenta who are serving,” said Mike Baldwin, post-adjutant for both the American Legion and VFW.
Baldwin and his crew on Friday will be handling the software that displays numbers on a new rear projector screen. He said they plan on giving away $1,500 worth of prizes.
Baldwin doesn’t partake in the games, but that’s just fine by him.
“I enjoy putting on the bingo and seeing people enjoying themselves,” he said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do. The motto of the American Legion is ‘Still Serving.’ That’s what we try to do in a small way.”
There will be 15 games, each prize $100. There will also be an intermission when raffle prizes will be handed out.
Attendance for bingo night has been successful. Lynn McGinnis, a former post commander and current judge advocate for the American Legion, said the event started thanks to one of the members’ daughters. She puts on a community bingo night with her family in Virginia, and a few years ago she emailed the Legion with a template on how to organize one here in La Crescenta. The first year, 180 people showed up. The second year, there was a drop-off, but it picked up again last year, which brought around 200 people.
McGinnis credits following the template and having the right kind of advertising as reasons why attendance is high. This year, he’s hoping for upwards of 220 players.
“It’s a fun evening for people who like to play bingo. They’re outgoing, and they’re gregarious,” he said.
Attendees in the past included former assemblyman Anthony Portantino, and the event brings out veterans, members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, and those involved with Holy Redeemer Church.
While the night is about fun, the purpose is about supporting veterans and their families. Along with bingo night, the Legion holds a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser. As a community service organization, the Legion supports two groups, youth and veterans. Those funds are used to support people throughout the year who might be in need.
For example, last summer there was a veteran who had problems getting a claim through the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The Legion helped her with the claim, which increased her compensation by $800.
“It’s really true: veterans look out for veterans,” McGinnis said.