By June Norvila and Treena Mielke
Although Christmas is more than a month away, it seems Santa has come early to Bentley youngsters involved in minor hockey or CanSkate.
A group of seniors who play bingo every Saturday afternoon at the Bentley Hotel and hotel owner Shengli Lee Jiang agreed to give $1,000 raised from charitable bingo games to Bentley Minor Hockey and CanSkate programs.
“The money we are giving this year is money we had left over from last year,” said Gordon Currier, one of the Bentley residents who participates in the bingos.
On Nov. 14, Hank Winters presented a $500 cheque to Bentley Minor Hockey President Darren Gyori and Ethel Beisal presented a $500 cheque to Bentley Skating Club treasurer Jennifer Goddu.
Currier said around a dozen or more bingo players participate in the weekly games held Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m.
“It’s up and down. Most of the players are grandmas and grandpas. We need to get a younger crowd involved as well,” he said. “If we don’t get a younger crowd doing it, eventually it won’t happen anymore.”
Currier said the bingos are a social time for people to get together, visit and enjoy camaraderie.
“You don’t have to drink,” he said. “You can have orange juice or water or coffee or whatever.”
The bingo players and Jiang are pleased to be able to donate money to the local groups, he said.
“Every organization can always use a bit of help.”
Hank Winters and Stan Coultis share the bingo calling job while Ethel Beisal keeps track of the books and money.
Winters has been involved with fundraising for more than 12 years and has been able to scrounge free bingo machines and cards from places that have shut down their bingos.
Beisal has also been involved with bingos at the hotel for some time.
Jiang, who has owned the hotel for about a year and a half is happy to help out local skaters.
Bingos at the hotel will continue until April and more funding from this season’s charitable bingos will be forthcoming.