Purse Bingo returns in October to support three local nonprofits that help save lives

Rotarian and Founding Board member of Shades of Pink Foundation
Rotarian and Founding Board member of Shades of Pink Foundation California Vembra Holnagel (left); Purse Bingo event committee member Marla Elliott (middle); and Purse Bingo event chair Gretchen Mitchell (right)
(Robert McKenzie)

Purse Bingo returns Oct. 3 at the Encinitas Community Senior Center with a goal of raising $20,000 for three local nonprofits.

“It’s a unique event,” said Gretchen Mitchell, event chair. “Basically, they play bingo and they win designer purses. The money that we raise supports three women’s charities in North County.”

Funds will go toward Shades of Pink Foundation California, which offers financial assistance for breast cancer patients; the Community Resource Center, which has a program to help victims of domestic violence; and the Alabaster Jar Project, which helps human trafficking survivors.

A committee selected the three nonprofits for the event based on their impact in North County. There was also a preference for smaller organizations that have more of a personal presence locally.

“We try to keep it to charities that are right in North County, so that most of the women are in our own community,” Mitchell said. “We feel strong that we need to support our community.”

Last year, Purse Bingo raised nearly $14,000.

“All of the details are in progress and we are on schedule to have everything ready to go,” said Vembra Holnagel, a Rotarian and founding board member of Shades of Pink Foundation California.

The goal is also to raise awareness for issues that impact women through the selected nonprofits.

Human trafficking, in particular, is an issue that affects San Diego County more than most other places in the United States. The FBI has listed San Diego as one of the 13 hotspots for trafficking, with more than 8,000 victims per year, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

According to a Purse Bingo news release, breast cancer and escaping an abusive relationship can both create financial hardships that are exacerbated by the cost of living in San Diego.

“I think people are really interested in the charities, they’re really interested in making sure that we are supporting charities that they like and are focused on women, and I think that’s a really valuable piece of this puzzle,” Holnagel said. “Not only do they have fun, but they’re also really doing good in the community.”

The Encinitas Community Senior Center is located at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive. Tickets are $65.

Check in for the event will start at 5 p.m. and the first game will begin at 6 p.m.

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