Surrounded by homemade treats, savory snacks and a bevy of drinks, residents from the borough, with their bingo cards fanned out and daubers within reach, were all eager to hear the first number. The game night, dubbed “Grocery Bingo,” was about to start.
The gymnasium at Most Precious Blood School, 32-52 37 St. in Astoria, which doubles as the auditorium, was transformed last Friday night to accommodate the crowd of 309 players. It was the highest number of participants in recent school fundraising events, according to Assistant Principal Donna Flynn.
Players paid $5 for admission, bingo cards, raffle tickets and other pay-to-play games, all for a worthy cause: to raise money for the school. Most Precious Blood School caters to nursery to 8th grade students and is in its 53rd year of serving Catholic families in northwestern Queens.
In lieu of monetary prizes, winners received reusable shopping bags filled with groceries. A sample bag included soda, a box of cereal, napkins, paper towels and a bag of pasta, all of which were donated by students.
Residents came out in droves that evening, with regulars from previous fundraising events at the school given the opportunity to buy tables in advance. Others, determined to show their support and guarantee a prime playing spot, started queuing up outside the school’s gates at 5:30 p.m — an hour and a half before the festivities began.
“I think it’s good because it brings us together as a community, not just a school,” Nancy Carroll said, who works as the school’s secretary and volunteered to sell refreshments for the event.
“It brings in parents, gives them a chance to socialize. And it brings in parishioners who may only see each other at church, to be able to come in, participate and win some great prizes too,” Carroll added.
The 181 raffle prizes, ranging from a “Movie Bonanza” basket filled with DVDs, a popcorn kit and candy, to a $50 gift card to Rite Aid, were all donated by vendors associated with the school, such as Flynn & O’Hara Uniform Co., Five Boro Heating Oil and Rudy’s Exterminating.
Local businesses offered their support as well. Some include: D&F Deli, Coldstone Creamery, Associated Supermarket and Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Funeral Home, which donates a flat-screen TV every year for a special high-priced prize raffle conducted toward the end of the night. Those raffle prizes also included such gifts as: two tickets for Mary Poppins on Broadway, a Sony Cybershot digital camera, a Nook Tablet and a $100 gift card to Macy’s.
“Between door prizes and the Sorry Game, everyone gets something,” Flynn said, who was calling out raffle winners with MPBS Principal Barbara DeMaio
“We try to make everyone a winner,” Flynn added.
“I don’t want to win, I won the other time,” Catherine Ciancio said coyly.
Ciancio, who’s turning 90 in August and has lived in the same house in Astoria for 86 years, recently won four movie tickets to a local theater at another fundraising event. She’s been a long time supporter of the church and school, where she sent her children. Her son Vincent joined her at the event for the first time.
Neida Martinez, chairwoman of the advisory board for MPBS, was all smiles upon returning to her table with her winning raffle prize. She was excited to offer her support to raise money for a worthy cause.
“Anything for the school,” Martinez said.