WEST ALEXANDRIA — The West Alexandria Firemen’s Association has returned to its traditional fundraising roots to help raise money for the department by offering bingo every Thursday, with doors opening at 5 p.m., games starting at 6 p.m. and running until 9 p.m at the West Alexandria Fire Department.
Bingo was originally used by the association starting in the 1980s, and running through late the ’90s according to Zach Shafer, chairperson of the bingo committee for the association.
“The biggest thing that makes it a good fundraiser is that it’s a high profit, low work load fundraiser for the volunteers. We only ask for a few hours each Thursday from people who already volunteer a lot of time to make the department successful,” Shafer said of the fundraiser.
Shafer added, “The fundraiser also gives people an opportunity to interact with the department and its members. As well as, it allows them to see where the money we are raising is going since we host it at the fire station.”
The turnout has been varying, according to Shafer, who says the attendance numbers remain between 20 and 50 players every week.
The department is offering around 30 types of bingo including Hogwild and Granny’s Gone Wild, two of the department’s most popular instant games, Shafer said.
The department is handing out at least $1,000 in winnings each week according to Shafer.
The cost to play ranges from $10 for a play-all-night basic package, and the association offers player adaptive packages depending upon the amount one is willing to spend, according to Shafer.
The department is currently raising money to help pay for its portion of the cost of a new fire and EMS station for the village, and for the continuing merger of the fire and EMS departments within the village.
In the association’s past, it has purchased three firetrucks for the department, along with other equipment the department needed, through funds raised from bingo, according Shafer.
Shafer said 100 percent of the funds raised are reinvested into the department and even helped purchase the land for the location of the new West Alexandria EMS and Fire Department facility.
The new department will require a levy from voters in March. Voters in the village will be voting on a 3-mill continuing property to tax which will raise around $850,000 on the $1.2 million project, according to officials.
County Auditor Lavon Wright said if the levy were to pass, a home with the assessed value of $80,000 will pay $84 a year.
According to West Alex Fire and EMS chief Jeff Shafer, the department’s goal is to raise $500,000 through fundraising events like bingo and through other avenues including private donations, to help pay for the cost of the new station.
The department had its largest turnout for bingo on News Year Eve when it saw 55 people come through the doors. They passed out around $2,300 in winnings, according to Shaffer.