In April, the Knights of Columbus in Parkersburg will mark its 59th year of providing bingo, believed to be the longest continuously operating bingo program in the area.
To commemorate this milestone, the Knights of Columbus held a bingo players' appreciation event last Saturday night with participants receiving a free spaghetti dinner. Tonight's players are scheduled to get an Easter present.
Paul Borrelli, 84, of Parkersburg has helped to run the K of C bingo games on Market Street since the beginning. The room where the bingo games take place on Wednesday and Saturday nights is named Borrelli Hall, in recognition of Paul and his late father, Vincent.
Borrelli figures he has missed only a dozen or so Saturday night bingo games at the K of C since April 6, 1954. Family events or sickness prevented him from attending.
The games began in a house on the property at 1010 Market St. before bingo proceeds helped fund a new building and expansions for the Knights of Columbus.
He has attended the funerals of regular bingo players over the years. "They (bingo players) are important to us," Borrelli said.
Larry Hamilton has been directing the K of C bingo games for several years.
Proceeds from K of C bingo have been given to Parkersburg Catholic Schools, churches, the American Cancer Society, the police department's D.A.R.E. program, Wounded Warrior and provide a Christmas dinner and dance for the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The purses have decreased over the years as the number of bingo players has dropped, Borrelli noted.
Bingo is an important social outlet for some people, Hamilton said.
Borrelli, who suffered a stroke three months ago, received a gift at last Saturday's bingo program: a decorated four-pronged cane.
Hamilton said he expects the K of C bingo games to continue for another 60 years - "the good Lord willing."
If you ever doubt the kindness of people, just talk to Betsy Martin.
Martin is co-coordinator, along with Jill Hefner, of the Lunch SAK (Serving All Kids) program at Lubeck United Methodist Church. Martin's husband, Jim, is pastor at the Lubeck church.
Martin's mission is to make sure all children, regardless of their family's income, have enough food to eat. There are no guidelines and no anonymity to participate. Poor and working-class families are welcome.
"Even with both parents working, families are struggling," Martin told me this week. "We are trying to give them a boost."
Here is how Lunch SAK works.
Shelf-stable food is packed on Wednesdays at Lubeck United Methodist Church. The bags of food are delivered to nearby Lubeck Elementary School on Thursdays and the children take the food home on Fridays after school.
The bags of food, which include fruit cups, cereal, potted meat, Slim Jims, macaroni and cheese, applesauce and other items, are designed to help feed hungry children on the weekends and other times (holidays) when school is not in session.
A beverage, entree and dessert for breakfast, lunch and a snack are placed in each goodie bag. Family members from 18 months to 18 years old in Lubeck are provided for in the nonprofit program.
Martin recognizes that the bags contain some high-sodium foods that are not healthy and lack fresh vegetables and fruits. But she wants to "fill tummies" and make sure children do not go hungry.
Volunteers went shopping recently to stock up on food to feed children during the long Easter break. "We filled five shopping carts for Easter," Martin said.
Parents pick up the food bags when school is not in session and volunteers make deliveries.
Lunch SAK has brought the church, community and school closer together, Martin believes.
The pilot program began last May with 56 children participating and it has grown to 96 children in 42 families.
Martin wants to share information on the program with area churches. They can call Lubeck United Methodist Church at 304-863-6082.
Contact Paul LaPann at email@example.com