Good Neighbors

How One Town Is Bringing Joy To Lonely Seniors

They wanted to give older residents who've been stuck inside for months a chance to let loose and have some fun - and boy did they deliver!

While the coronavirus pandemic has made all of our lives more difficult over the past months, it has been especially hard for senior citizens. Because older people are more at risk from the virus, most have been isolated at home since the crisis began.

That's why the Montgomery County Senior Center in New Caney, Texas has been holding drive-in bingo nights to give the older folks in the community a safe way to have some fun during the pandemic.

Here's how it works. The seniors arrive at a pavilion and park their cars. Then, they tune into a radio station to hear the numbers, and volunteers also hold up signs with the numbers on them as they're called.

video c/o Montgomery County, Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts

Instead of yelling "Bingo" when players win, they honk their horns and wave flags (some even wave bras!) – anything that will grab the staff's attention – to claim their prizes. In recent weeks, winners have received household items like paper towels, dish soap or snacks.

"This is the only kind of social contact they have," Dianne Rogers, the Operations Manager for Montgomery County, told Localish. "We were trying to find a way to get them out of the house, and we couldn't have them back in the building due to Covid."

Bingo players social distance by staying in their cars.EMC Senior Center/Facebook

The game has been growing more popular, and Rogers says on average they have about 50 cars of people participating. While the atmosphere is much different than a typical Bingo game, the competitive drive to win is still very much the same.

"I'd like to win a jar of peanut butter, because I love peanut butter," one player said at a recent gathering.

Volunteers hold up posters with the numbers as they're called.EMC Senior Center/Facebook

Even if winning isn't at the forefront of every player's mind, the seniors are happy to be out and having a good time – as one player puts it, some might be having a bit too much fun with the game.

"We have ladies bring strange things and wave them on their flags," she said. "You think they had a little nip before they got here."

No, your eyes are not deceiving you! That's someone using a bra to signal bingo.EMC Senior Center/Facebook

Players remain in their cars for the most part, and if they do get out, they have to wear a mask.

EMC Senior Center/Facebook

"We love these guys," Rogers said of the seniors who take part in the weekly Bingo games. "Without them, we don't function well, either. We have to have them as much as they have us."

What an awesome idea! Hopefully, drive-thru Bingo games will be popping up in a city near you soon.

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