‘Social distancing’ online bingo raises money for area organizations

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - During a time of social distancing, Stacy Bruner decided to host a game of online bingo.

“The underlying reason for doing it was maybe to play bingo and have a glass of wine or two,” Bruner said. “I was trying to figure out a way for myself to feel normal and like to talk to people. Selfishly, I was like I want to do this because I want to interact with people.”

He says he got the idea from his time spent as the beloved mascot, Bucky Badger. Once a week, Bucky visits the American Family Children’s Hospital and hosts a game of bingo on closed circuit TV.

“All kids that are in ICU that can’t get out of bed to play bingo can still play bingo when they’re in the hospital,” Bruner explained. “I thought we could do that with Facebook and run a bingo game.”

Last week, he started the games on his Facebook page. Those who play make their own bingo cards using a piece of paper and Bruner calls out the numbers.

“It’s a way for a lot of people to forget for an hour that they’re social distancing,” Bruner said.

He's taking it a step further by inviting people to do something good in these tough times.

“I want people to have that feeling of joy and be inspired to give back when times are tough,” said Bruner.

While hosting the game, Bruner encourages players to make a donation by either sending him money, which he then donates to area organizations, or by making a direct donation themselves.

So far, he’s been able to raise nearly $3,000 for local charities like Second Harvest, River Food Pantry, the CDC Emergency Relief Fund, and the Ronald McDonald House.

Bruner is also spreading a message of positivity by sharing ideas of ways to thank those who are essential workers.

“If you have the ability to give money to any one of these organizations that are doing good, food pantries or if you have the ability to just pick up the phone and call somebody that is a nurse, a teacher, or that’s a first responder, do that,” Bruner said. “Call them, tell them you love them, and donate some money.”

Bruner’s next game of bingo will be on Friday night at 7 p.m. To join the game, head over to his Facebook page.