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Bingo at fire department does more than raise money

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

A recent "Super Bingo" at Shepherdstown Fire Hall drew over 200 players. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Nearly every Wednesday evening, many regulars can be found at Shepherdstown Fire Hall, enjoying their weekly bingo night. The potential of going home a winner is always a nice thought for them, but their reason for returning every week, is getting the opportunity to share stories, laughter and conversation with other community-minded individuals.

“Wednesday night bingo is so important to the town,” said fire department treasurer Denny Barron. “It’s a community event – an outreach.”

According to Barron, nearly 90 percent of each bingo game’s 65-75 players are regulars. Along with giving the community a social event to enjoy on a regular basis, the games provide nearly $60,000 in annual revenue for the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. Added to the weekly intake of funds, the department sponsors four “super bingos” per year, usually on Sunday afternoons.

All funds generated are deposited into the general fund for the department, Barron said. Those funds are then used for everything, from general utilities to insurance, both building and liability, to repairs and upkeep of the building and equipment.

“Medical supplies alone cost us approximately $40,000 to stock our ambulances,” Barron said. The department has two fully-equipped ambulances and one standby ambulance.

Volunteers at Shepherdstown Fire Hall dished up food at the annual Super Bowl Dinner hosted by the department on Sunday. Toni Milbourne

The expenses of running the department continue to increase, as major equipment pieces need replaced and engine upkeep needs to be maintained. Another expense many may not think about is fuel, which often costs the department between $1,500 and $2,000 every month. Training for the firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians is an additional expense, toward which the funds raised throughout the year may be applied.

Volunteers join forces with the fire department to make the weekly bingo and super bingo events successful.

“It takes approximately eight to 10 volunteers on any given Wednesday,” Barron said, mentioning the volunteers help staff the kitchen and the bingo game.

Chief Ross Morgan often finds himself in the bingo caller seat.

“I do most of the specials,” Morgan said. “Then Gator [Locke] and I alternate. Twiggy [Simpson] works sometimes, too.”

When asked why he does the calling, which is often a less-desired position, Morgan jokingly replied, “Because nobody else wants to do it.” He added that he finds the job fun, and if people complain about something, you just have to let it go in one ear and out the other.

Weekly bingos take place every Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The next Super Bingo will be held on March 8. Doors will open at noon, with bingo beginning at 2 p.m.