By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: March 2012
ESA members (L to R) are preparing for their annual Bingo fundraiser: (back row) Debbie Martin, Kay Kirkes, Carol Applegate, Karla Applegate, Janie Stevens, Gertrude Riddle, Sue Johnston, Carolyn Domier, (front row) Mary Adams, Janet Kight, Bobbie Martin and Lisa Willhour.
Nothing creates more excitement in the small Oklahoma community of Inola than supporting a good cause. The Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) Gamma Pi chapter is sponsoring their 13th annual bingo fundraiser on March 10. The Hay Capital Round-up Club in Inola will once again be the place to spend a wonderful evening of competition, prizes, food and fun, all for a worthy cause.
“We always have a good turnout,” says club member Janie Stevens. According to Kay Kirkes, another ESA member, “Not even the rain, sleet or snow has stopped people from coming to our bingo fundraiser in the past.” Past bingo fundraisers benefitting other worthy causes in Inola have raised between $1,200 and $1,500 each. “We try to pick a different cause each year,” Stevens adds.
This year’s beneficiary, the Inola Ministry House, provides free clothing and food to those in need. “They are in dire need of food right now,” says Stevens. “The ministry house is open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 4 p.m. One of our longtime ESA members, Lisa Willhour, is also the coordinator for this ministry and brought their current need to our attention.”
At each ESA event, including their bingo fundraiser, the organization places a box at the entrance, encouraging attendees to bring a non-perishable food item, which goes to the Ministry House. To encourage donations, each donor receives a ticket toward a giveaway of assorted gift basket items.
“We’ve had theme baskets in the past, including a Made in Oklahoma basketful of items,” says Stevens. Although this year’s basket doesn’t have a particular theme, you can bet these resourceful women will have it packed chock-full of unique gift items.
Bingo participants may also purchase a one-dollar ticket to participate in a 50/50 cash drawing. The winner receives half of the proceeds while the other half goes to an ESA project. Bingo participants, who range in age from nine to 99, pay 25 cents for each card, and some have been known to juggle six to eight cards at once. “We have a variety of prizes for all ages, including the children,” Stevens says.
Local merchants as well as ESA members donate prizes, including gift certificates to local businesses. While over 100 prizes are given away during the evening, winners don’t get to pick their prizes, which are numbered. However, there’s a lot of horse trading going on as prizes are swapped back and forth, especially among the children. “A boy may win a doll and will trade it off to a girl who wins something he wants,” says Stevens. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
The fun starts with regular bingo, but as the evening progresses, other games are added, including four corners, postage stamp, large and small picture frame, and blackout bingo. “We really have nice gifts for the blackout round,” Stevens adds.
When their longtime bingo caller, Clarence Riddle, starts calling out the numbers at 4 p.m., you’d better have your spot already picked out. “A lot of people return and want their same spots,” says Stevens. “You need to get there early, at least by 3:30, if you want a good spot.”
With the annual event usually lasting until 9 p.m. or when the last prize is given away, participants can eat their supper at the concession stand, offering a variety of food, including hamburgers, hot dogs, Frito pie, nachos, barbecue sandwiches, and beans and cornbread. A variety of desserts will also be available, including Gertrude Riddle’s famous raisin pie. “We even have a woman who drives from Claremore just for this pie,” says Stevens. Riddle adds, “She always says she’s not coming unless I make my raisin pie.”
Whether you like raisin pie or not, ESA bingo fundraisers provide an evening of fun for the entire family.
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.