From left are Kirk Longmire, Coldbrook & District Lions; George and Koren Butler, the first $15,000 cookie jar winners; Peter Wallis, New Minas Lions; and Scott Fraser, owner of Petro Can New Minas.
BY SARA KEDDY
Kings County Advertiser/Register
People are definitely tuned in to radio bingo.
Over 5,000 cards were sold at Valley outlets for the Valley Lions Radio Bingo games July 12 - no wonder, with a must-go $15,000 cookie jar.
“We knew there was one and only one card out there based on the numbers out of our machine that could have won - and what were the odds that it would be among those sold?” Coldbrook Lions Kirk Longmire says.
As the numbers were broadcast, there was a long enough pause in play to allow any lucky winners time to dial in. Number after number, pause after pause.
“It was exciting in the radio booth,” says Longmire. “We drew a number and, 10 seconds later, the phone rang.
“It’s just luck.”
The winners were George and Koren Butler, on a card sold from the PetroCan garage in the village.
The big bucks cookie jar was the first high stakes game the Lions’ bingo has hit in its 20 weeks since the March launch. It reached $15,000 at 12 weeks, and Longmire says it took another nerve-stretching eight weeks to get a winner.
“But, because of that, we’ve got another $15,000 cookie jar already.”
The reserve means future cookie jars keep building until the one being played for now goes.
Everyone’s a winner, babe
Coldbrook Lions- who already run some innovative community programs to raise money, such as the Cambridge drive-in and a smash-and-bash car derby- took their idea for a radio bingo up and down the Valley last winter. They would do all the logistics and cover the costs to launch the game, broadcast Monday evenings over AVR. They’d gear up weekly card drops, track prizes and file provincial lottery paperwork. All other clubs would have to do is pick up old cards and money and drop off new cards each week at community locations - and take their cut of the proceeds off the top.
“It was a big effort to pull it all together, but now we’re selling over 1,000 cards a week,” Longmire says.
“There have been tens of thousands of dollars already returned to our 17 participating clubs, and that allows them all to do things they never could do - so many little things.”
Longmire says it has also given some of the bigger clubs the footing to do more: “The Valley hospice project, Camp Brigadoon for children - these are things we never thought we could play a part in.
“Each Lions’ club benefits, and that’s effecting lots of projects in every community.”
Retailers, Longmire says, are also happy.
“They don’t get anything for selling the cards or selling winners, but they do get people in their store.
“And, bingo players follow the winner - retailers are happy as clams.”
All in it for fun
Longmire envisioned the radio bingo becoming a weekly event for people, and that’s happened.
“There’s a pub in Bridgetown that has a weekly bingo with our cards, we’re hearing about house parties - even a group playing cards between bingo numbers.”
Digby is the number-one card selling Lions’ club, with Coldbrook running a close second every week.
“People know where the money is going, that it’s making a difference in local communities, and they’re paying attention.”