Every month at the Langstone Cliff Hotel in Dawlish Warren there is a charity bingo night. In September VIH were honoured with hosting. My first official fundraising task was to get the prizes for the raffle draw.
I’m not going to lie: I was nervous. The thought of contacting companies and asking for free stuff was a bit daunting. I’m 27 but with my goggly blue eyes and my hamster cheeks I look about 12. I was worried that people would take one look at me and think ‘Who’s the child coming in, trying to get freebies?’
I kept putting the task off. One Saturday morning I made the decision, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I wanted to help VIH so, after a quick can of man up, I went onto Google Earth. I started by doing a virtual walk through my local town. I made a list of all the companies I thought might be suitable. I decided that if I called them first, I was giving the businesses an opportunity to politely decline without feeling bad about the small, awkward, childlike lady that was stood in front of them. With my list in hand I was ready but what on earth was I going to say?
‘Hiya. My name’s Jaz…..’
‘Yo, it’s Jazmin…….’
This went on for some time. After some fine tuning and realising that I wasn’t cool (not even in the slightest) I made myself a little script to read from. I picked up my phone and dialled the first number.
It was for the Pizza Café….. I got through to the owner Mark Thuell. I explained who I was, what we did at VIH and invited him and all his team over to Dawlish Warren for the bingo night. I then explained that we were wondering if they would be able to donate a small prize for the raffle. Mark was more than happy. He said he would love to help as much as possible and invited me to pop in any time and pick up some vouchers for the raffle. As I put the phone down I had one of those involuntary smiles on my face.
What had I been worried about?
He was lovely, understanding and genuinely wanted to help in any way possible. From here on, with each phone call I made, I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone I spoke to was friendly, polite and even if they were unable to donate directly, at least gave me their head office details or came up with ideas of where to try next.
I then simply popped into each of the businesses that were able to donate and collected the prizes ready for the big night. It was that easy and I even got to have a yummy hot chocolate from Wetherspoons whilst I waited (cream and all!).
Time whirred by and before we knew it the night was here. Several VIH volunteers and I were sat waiting for people to turn up. We stationed ourselves ready for our designated tasks and in the blink of an eye the madness began as 224 people descended on us! Bingo cards, raffle tickets and dabbers were being sold at such a speed that our heads could barely keep up with our hands. It was so much fun getting stuck in, joking with the ladies and gentlemen as they made their way through. Then, there was silence whilst we all dabbed away, fingers and toes crossed hoping for a win. The concentration was palpable – and with cash prizes up to £250 who can blame them?!
During the break the yummiest carrot cake and a well needed cup of tea was provided for everyone. Then it was time for the raffle draw. Everyone loved their prizes.
At 10 o’clock the last game had ended and everyone began to leave. I drove through the winding roads that go from Dawlish Warren to Newton Abbot and crawled into bed. I went to sleep with a smile on my face and my faith in humanity at an all-time high. VIH raised a fantastic £902 on the night just on raffle tickets!
Now I have got the first fundraising event out of the way I can’t wait to get stuck into the next. VIH are helping out at some flu clinics coming up at the local GP surgeries and I am going to go along and help out there.
If you would like to start volunteering or you know someone that would benefit from our services please contact a member of the team on 01626 771695.
The next Bingo Night is on Wednesday 18th October. It’s just £10 for six games and the all important tea and cake at half time! Ring Jim at Swiftprint for more information and to book a table.