When a parking lot is full the first time you hold an event, overflowing actually, you know you are on to something.
An estimated 150 students, parents, grandparents and other members of area communities took part in Saturday night’s Bingo Bash at Southeast Junior High School. That does not count the families who picked up food and left.
The SJHS PTO hosted the event as a fundraiser, but the night was more than just about raising money. It was a way to fill a community need and have an evening of fun.
With numerous fundraisers going on throughout the year, SJHS PTO President Trista Shuster said they wanted to try something that would give community members something to do but not get in the way of other events going on.
“All of the officers have agreed we wanted to get away from the magazine sales – this involves the community getting involved and getting something for what they’re investing in,” said SJHS PTO President Trista Shuster. “We didn’t want to step on the toes of the elementary school carnival. There is so much here pulling on people that you have to find something they really want. Bingo was always popular and it’s something that has gone away over the years for various reasons.”
“Everybody likes bingo – little kids like it and the elderly love it,” said SJHS PTO Secretary Sarah Renn. “It’s just appealing to everybody and it’s cheap. $5 for 4 chances every game to win and you get to play for 2 1/2 hours? It’s cheap entertainment.”
“It’s a family fun game – everybody can do it,” said SJHS PTO Vice President Ronda Coltrane, who is also a teacher at the school.
Bingo prizes were donated. Students, staff and their families provided items to be put into theme baskets that were raffled off. Jackie and Ronda Coltrane of Coal Valley Angus, Ruth Davis of Pepsi Bottling, Carrie Low of the Cake Shed and Jeff and Whitney Lovell of Culligan Water all provided food and beverages for the evening; and, staff members of Labette Bank of Cherokee donated their time to call the bingo, much to the appreciation of the SJHS PTO.
“We got as much donated as we could so that we could make more money – we got the best return on investment we could,” Shuster said. “We have to thank them greatly for stepping up and helping out.”
Getting most everything donated meant the entire night was nearly all profit, and while the final count had yet to be done, Shuster said they raised more than $2,000.
Not bad for a few hours of the community’s time. But volunteers put in hours and hours of preparation time for the event.
“The officers have been here till 10 o’clock at least 3 or 4 nights just this week, not counting previous meetings and contacting sponsors,” Shuster said. “Thursday night we did not leave until 11 o’clock.”
Having a teacher as an officer has helped in a lot of ways, especially with those late nights.
“It has been great having a teacher as an officer – we’re not locked out of the building,” Shuster laughed. “Just having the ‘in’ with the school – what do the students want? What do the teachers want? Last year I was running around and had no clue. We now have someone in the school with the principal that can talk with him on their time.”
Coltrane said her being a PTO officer has helped with communication between staff and parents who want to help out, and an officer being on site with Principal Joe Martin has also been very convenient.
“Mr. Martin’s been really great to work with – he and I have collaborated a lot for this,” Coltrane said.
The officers were so thrilled with Saturday’s outcome, as the event was still going they were taking inventory, tracking estimates for food, and making other notes in preparation for next year.”
“It’s a great turnout – it’s super exciting,” Shuster said.