Elodie Reed, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS — Like Bingo? The Franklin County Animal Rescue wants you to come play a game and help support the animals.
Since late February, the animal shelter has held Wednesday Bingo nights in the Knights of Columbus building on South Main Street. The extended fundraiser was the idea of 22-year-old Franklin County Animal Rescue volunteer and board member Paul Martin, who has spent years going to Bingo with his grandmother, Paula Corey.
According to Martin, last night marked the last weekly session of Bingo for animal rescue. However, beginning in June, Bingo will be held on the first Wednesday of the month every month for the foreseeable future.
“There’s kind of a group that frequents all [Bingo nights],” said Martin.
One of that group is 69-year-old Barbara Barrett of St. Albans. “I go too much,” she said, laughing.
All the proceeds from this particular Bingo hall goes towards the animal shelter, which Martin said is in need of more space, as it is often over capacity. So far, about $3,000 has been raised.
“Our highest crowd so far has been 75 people,” Martin said, noting that a group that size can help raise $1,000 in one night.
While an average of 50 or so people showed up to the early sessions, Martin said there’s been a bit of a decline as of late. He’s trying to turn those numbers around and has gone door to door with flyers, put up signs to spread the word and encouraged many of his family members and RE/MAX North Professionals co-workers to play.
The caller at the animal shelter’s Bingo nights, for instance, is Jessica Peck, one of Martin’s colleagues. Peck’s mother, 66-year-old Susan Brown of South Burlington, and Peck’s colleague, 40-year-old Heather Kvasnak, of Fairfax, regularly play, too.
“We’ve been trying to make a go of it,” said Martin. He added that he hoped a progressive pull-tab Bingo bonus of $700 might be a draw.
This past Wednesday, about 25 people sat at long tables dotting their sheets with markers, munching on snacks, chatting with friends and family and, on occasion, putting their hand up and announcing “Bingo!”
Brian Corey, 42, of Highgate, Abigail Corey, Abby Troville and Maverick Rocheleau, all age 16 and of St. Albans, sat around one table last night. The group said they attend Bingo each week, usually staying there until 9 or 10 p.m..
“It’s fun, all my family and friends are here,” said Abigail.
“I like winning,” said Rocheleau. “It goes to a good cause.”
Eight volunteers helped sell Bingo sheets and food and keep the peace. Brianna Dube, a 16-year-old volunteer at last night’s session, was in charge of the food window. She said every Bingo night is great.
“It’s really fun, actually,’ she said. “It’s nice to see a lot of people getting out to support their community.”
Jen Simkin, 36, of St. Albans, and her daughter, Kylie, 12, played yesterday evening during their third time attending the Bingo night. They have two adopted Rottweiler-hound mixes from Franklin County Animal Rescue, and Simkin is also a Bingo enthusiast.
“I used to be a big Bingo player,” said Simkin, adding that she hasn’t played much since she lived in central Vermont about four years ago. “I was pretty excited that they opened this up to benefit the animal shelter.”
Gloria Clogston, 68, of St. Albans, has been helping out at the Bingo nights since February and said she’s been playing the game for 40 years. Clogston said she hoped more people would come to play and support the shelter.
“It started out pretty good,” she said. “I’m hoping that it takes off again.”