For most kids, the holiday season is filled with magic and wonder. They write wish lists. They daydream about what presents they might receive. They think about the gifts they’ll give to people they love the most.
This year, the event was held on the last day before holiday break, adding extra excitement and anticipation. The West40 bingo readers were Tim Stafford, teacher at the Safe Schools middle school, and Tammy Raffen, principal at the Safe Schools high school.
The format of the game is simple: whenever a student receives “Bingo,” they get to choose a gift from the nearby tables. The gifts range from fun items like toys, candy and jewelry to practical items like socks, soap, tool boxes and waffle makers. Most gifts are provided by the school’s faculty and staff, who purchase items with their own money throughout the year, while others are donated by members of the local community.
As the game begins, there’s electricity in the air. Teachers and staff members roam around the room, wearing over-the-top holiday outfits and cheering on the kids. And soon, students are shouting “Bingo!” One boy chooses a necklace for his mom. Another picks out toys for his twin nephews, who otherwise may not receive a Christmas gift at all.
After choosing a gift, the students take their items to the gift wrap table where volunteers are waiting expectantly. Sometimes the volunteer chooses the wrapping paper; other times the student is passionate about a specific wrapping paper or gift bag and collaborates with the volunteer to create the most festive gift for the person they have in mind.
On its surface, Christmas Bingo is about gifts. But ultimately, what the students take away is a feeling of gratitude and togetherness. One former Safe Schools student even makes an unexpected appearance to reunite with his onetime classmates and teachers. “I wish I could be here every day,” he says. “I love this Safe School community.”
Through a few simple gifts and the hard work of staff members and volunteers, West40’s Christmas Bingo shows students that there’s always hope—especially in the seasons when we need it most.