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The 'gift of dab' keeps on giving to area fire companies

June 26, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

MAUGANSVILLE - Jean Wilkins arrived at the fire hall and set her gear on the table. a framed photo of her two grandsons, a bag of hard candy, a large fountain drink, 12 game pads and a pouch full of colored ink daubers.

Wilkins said she leaves the firefighting gear to sons Kevin and Tommy Wilkins, who are members of Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. She does her part to support the organization by regularly playing bingo there.

Wilkins, of Cearfoss, was among more than 100 players who attended a basket-bingo fundraiser Sunday afternoon at the Maugansville station.

Phil Ridenour, fire chief of Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co., said bingo proceeds constitute a major portion of the company's $275,000 fiscal budget. Basket bingo earns profits of $3,000 to $4,000 three times per year, while cash bingo every Thursday night brings in a total of nearly $50,000 per year.

"The money goes toward operational costs of the company. We get a lot of repeat customers and regulars," Ridenour said.

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Diane Hart, 40, of Maugansville, considers herself a regular.

"I come on Thursdays and for basket bingos," Hart said. "It's very relaxing. It's addictive to me."

Hart said she met her boyfriend, firefighter Woody Carpenter, 45, of Maugansville, at one of the company's bingo fundraisers.

Ridenour said the company's Firefighters Auxiliary Committee started basket-bingo fundraisers with assistance from the firefighters at least five years ago. Players pay $20 for basic games and four bonus games. The company offers special games, raffles, tip jars and food at additional cost. A few of the prizes are cash and some are Longaberger pottery. Most are Longaberger baskets filled with goodies such sa kitchen utensils, fruits, relishes, chocolates, writing utensils and sewing supplies.

Company member Gilson Spidle, 30, of Maugansville, passes out baskets to prizewinners during basket-bingo events. Spidle said members of the Firefighters Auxiliary Committee fill the baskets more elaborately with each fundraising event.

"I am the Vanna White of baskets here," Spidle said. "And (the baskets) get heavier and heavier and heavier every time we do this."

Jodi Grimes said she plays bingo for the prizes, as well as the opportunity to support the fire company. Grimes, 38, of Williamsport, bought tip-jar tickets and earnestly dabbed her 15 bingo sheets at the same time. She said she began playing at bingo fundraisers more than 16 years ago when her husband, Todd Grimes, a firefighter for the City of Hagerstown, used to volunteer with the fire company in Williamsport.

Darletta Terrett, 51, of Keedysville, said she was pleased when she won cash in a "winner take all" game.

"I don't really collect baskets," she said. "I just play bingo."

Cassandra Martorana, 38, of Hagerstown, took her daughter, Kendel Riggleman, 15, to play bingo for her first time Sunday. Martorana carefully studied the wall-mounted TV screen bearing bingo numbers as she spoke.

"I like coming to play bingo. It's fun supporting the fire company and being here with friends," Martorana said. "I try to play every chance I can."

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