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Bingo’s back!: In-person fundraiser return to the fire hall

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Jul 2, 2021

Ross Morgan, chief of Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department, calls bingo, as the company welcomes players back this summer. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The popular Wednesday night bingo fundraiser at Shepherdstown Fire Hall returned last week, after more than a year-long break brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was an excited crowd who showed up to take their chances at calling “bingo!” or at winning one of the dozens of tip jars that were sold throughout the night.

Many were return players who had missed their weekly outing, while some were new to the event and just glad to be out and about. Either way, conversations, laughter and hugs were in full supply at the event.

Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ross Morgan was the lucky volunteer to call the first half of the night’s bingo numbers. Just prior to the fundraiser’s beginning, Morgan received a text, which he shared with the bingo participants.

“I just had my first grandchild!” he beamed.

The message came in from his son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Ashley Morgan, that his granddaughter, Adelynn Virginia Morgan, had arrived. The rest of the night was a good one, after that news, and Morgan was all smiles as he later shared a photograph of the new baby.

Craig “Twiggy” Simpson stepped in to call the second half of the evening, as games were won, meals were eaten and new friends were made.

In addition, the fire department resumed one of its most consistent fundraising mechanisms.

Department treasurer Denny Barron had previously shared that the games provide nearly $60,000 in annual revenue for the department, when traditional “super bingos” are added in that had taken place approximately four times per year.

On average, the weekly crowd ranges from 65-75 players, with the majority of those being regular supporters.

“Tonight is a good crowd, larger than normal,” Morgan said.

Bingo, while a consistent revenue stream, is much more than that to Shepherdstown–it is a community event and an outreach to the fire department.

“We are blessed with bingo, as we try to continue to be a people-oriented department,” Morgan said of the all-volunteer company.

Funds raised through the weekly efforts are deposited into the general fund for the department and used to cover everything from general utilities to insurance, to repairs and upkeep of the building and equipment.

Expenses of running a fire department are always on the rise, as equipment ages and needs to be replaced, adding to the general everyday costs of doing business. The volunteers — both at the station and within the community — step up each week to support the bingo program, by donating their time to help with the evening’s activity.

Moving forward, bingo will be held each Wednesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.