Averee Hill, 11, (from left) and Calie Dahl, 10, wait with great anticipation for numbers on their cards to be called. Winners of each round were able to go to a large table filled with books to select one to take home with them.

Anticipation hung thick in the air as more than 350 children and their families hovered over partially-filled Bingo cards as announcer Shelly Falkenburg called out the remaining numbers in the round. All of a sudden, one child yelled out “Bingo” among the crowd. More joined in celebration moments later, eventually causing a sizeable line to form at the table where volunteers checked the validity of their Bingo claims.

Upon passing the checkpoint, youngsters flooded a table lined with books to pick one of their choosing. As the remainder of participants waited for the next game to start, raffle numbers were called to award a wide variety of family-friendly prizes.

“Even with some of the prizes, we try to build on family bonds,” Douglas Intermediate and Upper Elementary student committee leader Chelcie Craig said. “We do try to pool prizes as something they can share with their family and build a connection with them.”

Even with 350 chairs set up, families had to resort to the floor to play Bingo, as no empty chairs remained.

The Douglas Rec Center was the place to be the evening of March 16, as this year’s Family Bingo Night, put on by the Douglas Intermediate and Upper Elementary student committee, was met with a very positive turnout.

Prizes were given away ranging from a television, board games and activities to enjoy outside as a family.

The true reason behind why Family Bingo Night has been alive and well within the Douglas community for the better part of 12 years is the desire for families to join together for not only a night of fun and games but to also help their community out at the same time.

The night of Bingo action raised a little more than $4,000 this year, which will go directly to families within Douglas who are going through catastrophic events or challenging times in their lives.

That’s what makes the annual event special.

“We want to support the community... it’s a good thing,” Craig said.

“It’s a great community and family event,” fellow student committee leader Natalee Brace added. “We love to see parents bring kids to come together. All the money raised goes to families in need. It’s for a great cause.”

Aside from helping community members out, the event also puts books in the hands of those who earned a Bingo or two during the night. Most headed home with more than one book in hand, with nearly 1,200 books given away.

“We had very little left,” Craig said of the event’s collection of books that were purchased with money raised by the student committee.

Students who are part of the student committee help by volunteering in various areas around the gym. Craig says the youngsters get a lot out of helping.

“They love it,” she said. “They help with stations and help prepare for the night. It’s been a big boost for them with leadership.”

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