By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
t was a lucky night on Friday night – not just for the fortunate bingo players who matched the numbers called out to win cash prizes, but also for the American Legion and VFW that sponsored the third annual Community Bingo Night.
“We had to keep bringing out more and more tables and chairs,” said organizer and American Legion Post Commander Lynn McGinnis. McGinnis was recently installed as the American Legions Post Commander. Jerry Peterson took over the reins as the VFW commander. Both men were on the Community Bingo Night committees.
About 200 folks – “a record for us,” McGinnis said – showed up at Healy Hall at Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose ready to plunk down $10 for two game cards for 10 games.
The play began at 7 p.m., but the doors at Healy Hall opened at 6 p.m. to give people a chance to pick their lucky seat and grab a piece of pizza from Straw Hat Pizza.
If the bingo cards weren’t lucky, participants had a chance to win donated prizes in an opportunity drawing. The variety of prizes, including tickets to Angels baseball and UCLA football games, scrapbook supplies, theatre and magic show tickets, OPI products and more that were all donated by local supporters, guaranteed to please winners.
The proceeds from the evening, which are still being tabulated, were split between the local VFW and American Legion posts.
The American Legion holds two fundraisers a year; in the spring members host a St. Patrick’s Day dinner and auction. In the fall is the bingo fundraiser.
Both the American Legion and VFW share the same goals on the local level: to help youth and veterans. McGinnis, who is a member only of the American Legion, said the Legion’s money raised from the bingo night was earmarked for veterans’ programs. These programs include supporting a couple of national programs, like Operation Gratitude, and vet facilities in Sepulveda and West L.A. The Legion also looks for veterans in need during distribution of food collected for the post’s holiday food drive.
McGinnis accredited the addition of some bingo software with making Friday’s festivities go so smoothly.
The software called the numbers then displayed the numbers. McGinnis said that incorporating the software with Healy Hall’s updated technology (rear projection system, sound system among other upgrades) made a big difference.
“What really helped us was that the software called a number every 10 seconds. No one complained that we were going too fast or they couldn’t hear,” McGinnis said. “It gave a lot of credibility to us bunch of guys.”
The popularity of the event sparked speculation that the posts would hold another bingo night before a year has passed.
“We’re going to try and do it more than once a year,” said McGinnis. “A number of people said they’d like to do it more often.”
McGinnis credits the community for such a successful event.
“We want to give a big thank you to the community for the support we got – the support was phenomenal,” he said. “It was very generous and very much appreciated.”
Those interested in learning more about the American Legion can stop by for an informal breakfast held on the second Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Memorial Hall, 4011 La Crescenta Ave. in La Crescenta. The breakfast is open to any veteran in the valley regardless of membership in the Legion. The Legion meets the first Wednesday of the month at Memorial Hall.
To learn more about the VFW, the post meets the third Wednesday of the month at Memorial Hall.