There’s nothing quite like the thrill of that final dab before calling out "Bingo!"
Even in the midst of the pandemic, bingo enthusiasts can get their fix while also supporting two great causes.
Debbie Forgie, vice-chair of St. Eustache Métis Local, sells NCI Mini Loonie Pot bingo cards for players to dab at home each week. The cost is $3 for a strip of three cards with a chance to win a high-value prize.
The Métis local, which boasts a large membership in the southwest region, receives 10 per cent of the ticket sales. Another portion of the proceeds goes to Native Communications Inc. (NCI), a Manitoba-based Indigenous radio broadcaster offers programming throughout the province. The bingo funds are used towards operational costs and NCI network growth.
"On average, I’ve been selling just over 200 cards per month. The most I sold in one month was 430 cards," Forgie said. "I set it up for my regulars who play each week to just e-transfer the money to me."
On Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., NCI plays two bingo games live on 105.5 FM and sister station 104.7 FM. The first game involves getting all 12 numbers in a diamond shape that is pre-stamped onto the bingo cards. To win the Mini Loonie jackpot, currently valued at $500,000, players must complete the solid diamond on one of five special loonie numbers called prior to the game. If you fill the diamond but you don’t win on a loonie number, then you’ll get a consolation prize currently valued at $4,900.
After that, bingo continues with a blackout game on the same card. If A full card is completed in 49 numbers or less, the winner takes home $1,900. If not, the blackout game has a consolation prize of $1,500.
Those who can’t play along with the Saturday morning radio broadcast, can play online through the NCI website at www.ncifm.com
Prizes must be claimed by noon on the Monday following the Saturday game.Due to the pandemic, St. Eustache Métis Local has not been hosting its popular meat draws, which were usually combined with Jets game viewings or karaoke nights.
As a result, the bingo ticket sales provide some much-needed funds for the organization.
"Our NCI Bingo is still getting us a little pocket change for the club," Forgie said. "It’s a great way to keep fundraising while COVID is happening."
The funds raised will allow the club to continue offering free community events.
"Our big event is for Louis Riel Day in February out in St. Eustache and it’s free for the public. We rent the St. Eustache ice for two hours for free public skating. We have cultural entertainment like fiddlers or dancers. We have snowshoeing and bannock on a stick and axe-throwing contests outside," Forgie said. "Volunteers bring homemade soup, wieners and beans, stew, bannock and homemade jams. We put that out all afternoon for people to come and take for free. The only thing that we charge for is a pancake breakfast for $5. That’s our biggest event that we put on and it’s very well attended."
Anyone interested in buying bingo tickets can contact Forgie at 204-792-6006 or firstname.lastname@example.org
She is currently taking orders for the September games. Players can pick up the cards or Forgie can make arrangements to deliver or mail the cards to them.