Continuing the Turkey Bingo Tradition

With inflation skyrocketing, there is one thing that people are focusing on this month: the price of a Thanksgiving dinner. Supposedly, 2021 is supposed to be the year that Americans will fork over a small fortune to provide a Thanksgiving meal. It goes without saying what the priciest item on the table is.

So, how do you make Thanksgiving affordable this year if you plan to serve turkey? You win one of course!

Back as a child, one of the highlights every fall was when the Knights of Columbus council at my childhood parish, St. Thomas More in north Spokane, would hold Turkey Bingo. Our entire family would arrive at the church social hall on a Sunday in November to eat popcorn, visit with friends, and try to win a turkey. It was here that I learned about the competitiveness of bingo and the agony of the words “clear your cards.”

Turkey Bingo is a popular fundraising event for Knights of Columbus councils. Council 4196 (St. Mary – Spokane Valley) is no exception.

Fast forward a couple decades to this past weekend. Once again I found myself at turkey bingo. Only this time I was bringing my own family and I was one of the Knights putting it on.

Our large supply of turkeys we gave out at our Turkey Bingo event.

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Council #4196 of St. Mary Catholic Parish in Spokane Valley held its annual Turkey Bingo (you can probably guess…turkey bingo events are pretty common in Catholic parishes). After I moved from Myrtle Beach I transferred from Council #5086 to #4196. What a blessing it has been to go from one awesome council to another and what a blessing it is that we are finally back to doing in-person events!

After we set up all the tables and chairs, I took this photo of our set up inside the St. Mary School gym about an hour before we opened to the public.

I had a lot of fun helping my brother knights put on the event but the best part was definitely playing bingo with Sid, Sloan, and my dad. I was given plenty of time to leave my post and enjoy the afternoon with my family. To give Sloan her first taste of bingo and see how much she was genuinely enjoying it was really cool.

Sloan and Sidney at Turkey Bingo at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly there to “enjoy” it. She was there to win! She had her eight cards spread out in front of her and knew all the combinations she had to hit in order to score a turkey.

Sidney playing her six cards at Turkey Bingo.

Success didn’t come right away but her persistence paid off. In the second to last game, she won the “top and bottom” round to win a bird for the Resers! In addition to walking away victorious, it was an afternoon marked by sweets, 50/50 raffles, and laughs.

Sidney holds up her winning card along with the ticket voucher she was given for her turkey at the Knights of Columbus Turkey Bingo event at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

To introduce my daughter and wife to one of our old family traditions and to actually now contribute my time to making the event itself function was pretty special. If there is any Catholic man out there who wants to become a Knight, please feel free to reach out to me. Now, let’s get that turkey cooking! Don’t Blink.

Observing the Generosity of the Community

Yesterday, my eyes were opened to the generosity that exists in the Myrtle Beach area. I spent the afternoon at Sam’s Club volunteering for the Knights of Columbus. We were doing one of our charity drives to raise money for Columbus Hope, a non-profit that assists individuals with intellectual disabilities and special needs in South Carolina.

Standing outside the Sam’s entrance, we handed out Tootsie Rolls and collected donations. It is a simple operation but one that has familiarity. My guess is that most of my readers have seen gentlemen in yellow vests with red lettering at the entrance of grocery stores. Well, that was me yesterday.

I had the pleasure of dawning the Knights of Columbus vest yesterday.

But it definitely wasn’t just me. In fact, it was barely me. My other Knights of Columbus brothers made it possible for our council (#5086) to have a presence at the store’s entrance the entire weekend, many of them taking multiple shifts. Although I only took one shift, it was enough for me to observe the kindness of my fellow citizens.

We handed out a lot of these yesterday. Over the course of the weekend, we raised more than $2,500.

The amount of people who would start digging into their purses or wallets upon getting a glimpse of our vests from halfway deep in the parking lot was pretty cool. The numerous times I saw parents exemplify giving by feeding their young children bills to put in our buckets also resonated with me. The man who was obviously down on his luck and just passing by the store who still stopped to give us his only pennies drew direct comparison to the poor widow of the Gospel.

The folks who would quietly drop big bills in our buckets without even taking a Tootsie Roll left an impression. Same with the folks who would walk in cashless only to return to the entrance to give us a donation after getting cashback. And I can’t forget about the people who would lobby their spouses or friends to give as well.

Observing the generosity of others is inspiring and gratifying. Another benefit of volunteering is working with incredible people. Since I joined the Knights of Columbus, I have had the pleasure of meeting some selfless and motivated Catholic brothers.

I could go on and on about some of these men, but let me just use my shift partner from yesterday as an example. John Kost will turn 90 in June but he manned the other side of the entrance with me for two hours in the hot afternoon sun. He brought in more money than I did and charmed everyone who approached us. An Air Force veteran who has lived through a lot, it was such a pleasure to speak with him and learn about his experiences and love for the Church. I want to be like him when (if) I get to that age.

I had the pleasure of working with John Kost yesterday. He is one of the coolest guys I know.

The perspective gained by serving the community is invaluable. I need to do a better job of doing it more. Thanks to organizations like the Knights of Columbus and people like John, I have no excuse not to. Don’t Blink.