I’ve never been a fan of games of chance, but I went into Jewish Family and Children’s Service’s Virtual Bingo Game Day with an open mind.
After multiple attempts at online game nights, including a contentious round of Monopoly that almost ended two friendships and frightened several pets, bingo seemed like a more relaxing option.
It was also for a good cause. JFCS provides community and mental health resources, and bingo winners were rewarded with gift cards to local businesses of their choice.
“Because of the pandemic, which closed our Barbara and Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center, we wanted to do something virtual. We can’t really do virtual mahjong or canasta, so we decided bingo would be a nice way to connect to the community,” said Sharon Schwartz, director of community engagement at JFCS.
The June 15 event was led by QVC host Stacey Pearlman, who shared stories about her career and rubbing shoulders with celebrities on the retail network.
“Some of my favorite memories are with Joan Rivers. Everyone at QVC has their own Joan Rivers story because she was warm, she was friendly, she was approachable,” Pearlman said.
The late comedian even promoted products Pearlman was selling alongside her own during her QVC time slot.
Pearlman reminisced about eating food prepared by Rachael Ray, getting hair tips from Martha Stewart and discussing aging with Brooke Shields.
“I’ve talked to Brooke Shields about how we want to keep our long hair into our late 40s,” she laughed.
She shared a prerecorded message from Debra Messing of “Will & Grace” fame. Messing thanked players for attending and supporting mental health services.
“Please stay safe, and I’m sending you lots of love,” she said, blowing a kiss to the audience.
After the audience had a chance to ask questions about her stories, Pearlman started the game. She was committed to keeping things authentic and used a real bingo wheel to call numbers. Participants received their cards in the mail ahead of time and played four rounds, each with a different pattern.
The first round was a simple row that resulted in two winners. I got close, but found myself stuck at four in a row as Pearlman called number after number. By the time two voices triumphantly cried “Bingo!” I had gracefully resigned myself to defeat.
The second round, where the goal was to make an X, also had two winners. I managed to make a mini X shape in the center of my board but missed out on the corner spaces.
The third and fourth rounds, which featured the difficult box pattern and another row, respectively, had one winner each. I got tantalizingly close each time, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
In between rounds, Pearlman shared some of her favorite products from QVC, including tie-dye stud earrings, oversize blankets, phone sanitizer and gift ideas for Father’s Day.
I like to consider myself immune to the temptation of shopping, but this illusion was shattered when I realized I was Googling lounger hoodies in another tab and texting my dad to ask if he would hypothetically enjoy using an air fryer.
I had fun at my first bingo game since high school. The game had enough suspense to inspire friendly competition, but not enough to induce frustration that leads to table-flipping (unlike, say, Monopoly). I was especially charmed by the audience’s age diversity, with a mix of older bingo veterans and eager young novices playing with parental assistance. The game is inclusive and accessible to people from all walks of life — truly the perfect virtual community event.
[email protected]; 215-832-8917