By Noriah Williams
Mason Times staff writer
MASON – Just outside the town lies a white, wooden building with an American flag flying high. This building is Mason VFW 7309, better known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization.
It is in this building that for 50 years, men who have fought in wars and conflicts overseas come for support and fellowship. Along with these veterans are the men and women of the American Legion Auxiliary who, though never enlisted in the Armed Forces, join to support these veterans in any way they can.
The purpose the VFW hall serves is an important one, yet its survival is under constant threat. Founded in 1936, the organization is a government non-profit that survives solely on charity. Many activities and fundraisers are put on to support the hall and those who frequent it, and sometimes just to keep the doors open.
Mason VFW 7309 hosts a variety of community events, open to members of the VFW, Auxiliary, as well as the public. Chili cook-offs, New Year’s dances, buck pole during Michigan hunting season and Saturday night karaoke draw donations and crowds.
One of the most lucrative activities for the hall is bingo. Held every Sunday at 5 p.m., bingo games usually take in as many as 60 people. With a larger jackpot, more than 100 people are known to attend. On this particular Sunday, Feb.5, the jackpot reached more than $1,800 and it showed in the crowd.
“It just gives you some time out,” says Christine Wireman, a bingo participant for the past four months.
Though the game is the same classic sport, a twist is added in the form of a variety of bingo playing cards. Warms ups, early birds, and jackpots are examples of the many ways to play the game.
As well as bringing together members, bingo nights are profitable. A single player can spend as much as $30 on bingo cards a night, as well as purchasing pull tags and raffles for multiple chances to win smaller sums and snacks from concessions, run by the women’s auxiliary.
Many halls in Lansing and areas near Mason have fallen victim to robberies and untimely closings. Yet, successful bingo nights like these help the Mason women’s auxiliary help those serving in the military and to adopt a family every Christmas. The women’s auxiliary also gives to the National Home in Eaton Rapids, which supports orphans and women who have been widowed by war and conflict as well as single mothers.
Noland Douglass has been a member of the Mason VFW for 37 years. Having fought in the Korean War as a U.S. Marine, Douglass is a familiar face in the hall and the community. He is one of the members who visit the Veterans Affairs hospital in Battle Creek, MI once a month and a frequenter of hall events such as pool league and the now defunct veterans’ breakfast.
With a strong sense of community in the room, many players are spouses, family, neighbors, and life-long friends. To these players, bingo is more than just a fun night out, it is a way to give back to those who gave to them and this country.
1243 Hull Road
Mason, MI 48854