By Nicole Starker Campbell
For The Pipestone Flyer
Peace Hills Bingo is more than just entertainment. For over three decades, the local Wetaskiwin bingo hall has been helping to keep local non-profits afloat.
“We figured out that in the approximately 33 years that we have been running, about $175 million has gone back into the community,” says office manager and assistant hall manager Sue Gibson.
Almost 40 groups depend on the bingo to raise funds and these organizations include local Legions, museums, sports teams, schools, service clubs, and agricultural societies.
Groups can generate an average of $600 just by volunteering to staff a four-hour event at the bingo hall, making it an efficient way to fundraise. Gibson says that some local community groups wouldn’t be able to survive without bingos.
Last year, Peace Hills Bingo generated $512,000 for local non-profit organizations. In 2016 that number was close to $800,000. Gibson says they are starting to see the effects of the economic downturn and are struggling because people don’t have the funds to spend on entertainment that they used to.
In addition to being an essential source of fundraising for local non-profits, the bingo hall itself is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board. Gibson says Peace Hills Bingo operates on a bare bones budget and every penny above that goes back into the community.
She attributes the longevity of the organization to all of the amazing local volunteers who give their time working at the bingo. With at least a dozen people needed at each of the over 600 bingo events ever year, that’s over 7,000 volunteers.
“It’s mind blowing really that, even in this terrible economy, we’re still putting over half a million dollars per year into the community to run all these fabulous programs and it’s all thanks to these incredible volunteers.”
Gibson encourages people to come out to Peace Hills Bingo to have some fun while supporting local community groups. It’s a clean, smoke-free environment, and playing bingo won’t break the bank.
“You can play for as little as three dollars. In literally 34 years, bingo has not gone up in price.”