Veterans groups divvy up $90,000 donation from Bingoland

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 30, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Harold Britt, Mike Clinesmith and Skip Hannon wore big smiles Wednesday night at Bingoland and they don't even play the game.

The reason for their grins and those of fellow veterans gathered at the bingo parlor at 6832 14th St. W.?

They divvied up a $90,000 donation by Bingoland's ownership to their respective veterans organizations.

Checks of $15,000 each went to Palmetto VFW Post 2488's mens, ladies and auxiliary organizations.

Checks in the same amount went to Bradenton VFW 10140 mens and ladies organizations.

One $15,000 check went to the Korean War Veterans.

A big night for a good cause.

"It's a wonderful thing, it really is," said Britt, VFW Post 2488's commander. "We'll be

able to help so many veterans with this. We're going to sit down and decide what to do and which vets to aim at to give, but it'll help a lot of different things."

Ditto, said Clinesmith, VFW Post 10140 quartermaster.

"We'll put it in our relief fund, which goes to help veterans of Manatee County," he said. "We've got a bunch coming back now with disabilities, homeless veterans, and we have a certain amount we can give to each one. This will go a long way to helping them."

Such a sizeable amount was a first for each group.

"That's a big chunk that will enable us to do whatever we can that's right," said Hannon, who heads the Korean War Veterans. "We're going to have enough money to donate to other charities, schools, other veterans groups, Red Cross, people looking for help."

The donation came from bingo proceeds from the last several months of 2013.

According to Pete Killingsworth, president of Bingoland and Orange Blossom Bingo, these have veterans groups volunteered at the venue and they in turn receive donations for their organizations.

"Through the years we were giving them $200, $300, $400 a month," he said.

But when the state declared Internet cafes and their gambling-type games illegal in 2013, that worked to Bingoland's benefit -- and their charities.

"Once they went down, that revenue came our way," Killingsworth said. "Before that I was afraid we'd have to close our doors, but the bingo hall started making money."

Wednesday night's crowd was about 100 people, the average, he said, and some night's winnings can total $25,000.

"If it stays the way it is, we hope to have more charities involved here," he said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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