The numbers continue to come up for the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes.
And that means the Friends of the Port St. Joe Public Library are the winners.
The Reid Avenue Bunco Babes handed over a check for $1,426 last week to the Friends of the Port St. Joe Public Library, bringing the total raised by the Babes and their Bunco in less than three years to $9,055.
“This Bunco group is such a community-minded organization,” said Cathy Colbert, president of the Friends of the Port St. Joe Public Library. “These ladies have been great to the library. We can not thank them enough.”
The Reid Avenue Bunco Babes, who get together for frequent games of the popular dice game, decided in the spring of 2010 to organize a tournament to benefit the library.
The money goes to the Friends, a non-profit with the goal to compliment to the library’s core mission, during a time when public funding for libraries has been slashed around the region and state.
The Friends organization has flexibility in how they spend the money, provided it is not for core bricks and mortar improvements that fall under the library’s operating budget.
The Friends buy books, periodicals, newspapers, computer software and DVDs the library could not otherwise afford.
For example, the latest donation from the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes – who two weeks ago held their sixth library fundraiser in less than three years – is earmarked for additional books, books on CD and for DVDs.
“It used to be that we had a limit on our DVDs and our books on CDs,” Colbert said, noting that both items are popular with snowbirds. “Now because of the Bunco Babes anybody can check out twice as many DVDs or CDs as they did before, four instead of just two.
“This is invaluable for us. And the snowbirds are very important to us.”
Despite a tighter operational budget, which has necessitated the closing of the library on Saturdays, the Port St. Joe Public Library remains a popular community asset.
Memberships and visits are up, the use of the computers at the library is up and many use the free Wi-Fi available at the library.
On a recent weekday, several youngsters were at the computers working on class assignments to compensate for not having a computer at home.
In part, that was a product of an outreach program during which the library distributed brochures about its offerings to locals and tourists.
“They marketed the library this year and it made a difference,” said Dana Boyer, one of the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes.
The most recent fundraiser was held again at The Fish House Restaurant.
Owner Eric Spilde opens on Sunday for the events, donates the bar receipts and donates anything above food cost back to the effort to support the library.
“It is amazing he is so generous,” Colbert said. “I don’t know how we can thank him.”
Carlene Parker, another Bunco Babe, added, “And he acts like he likes it.
For the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes, the library fundraisers add some spice to their competition, which over the past two years has included a host of tourists and snowbirds as well as Bunco groups from beyond Gulf County.
“It’s fun,” said Nancy Swider of the Bunco Babes. “We believe in the library. It’s been a big part of our lives.”
Added Boyer, “The community needs to support the library.”