Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians
Special to the Valley News
Thanks to hundreds of fun-loving supporters, students at the Soboba Tribal Preschool will take a trip to Disneyland to celebrate the end of the current school year. A family Bingo Night fundraiser was held Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Soboba Sports Complex to raise funds for the trip. More than 330 players paid $10 for a spaghetti dinner and two bingo cards that each offered four different games for a chance to win some cool prizes.
It was determined that about $7,500 needed to be raised to make the trip a reality as the school plans to cover the admission price for each of its 60+ students and an adult family member to accompany them, according to the school. The Bingo Night raised $7,359 and after adding that to monies raised from a few earlier and smaller fundraisers, the children are going to Disneyland.
Soboba Tribal Preschool Office Manager Amber Lopez said the plan for the year-end trip is to offer scheduled meet-up places and times during the day where the kids can gather with their classmates and teachers for group activities. It will be purely voluntary, but preschool staff believe the families will enjoy meeting up with familiar faces throughout the day. Students are also allowed to bring along siblings and others at their own cost, so it promises to be a fun-filled family excursion for all.
“This is the first trip that we have taken since the COVID outbreak in 2020,” Donovan Post, principal of Noli Indian School, said.
He said the preschool staff came up with the idea for this fundraiser at one of their meetings.
“Everyone thought it would go over well, but we had no idea how well it would do,” he said. “It really blows all expectations out of the water. The support from the Tribe was amazing; not only on the night by showing up, but also with the donations to make the night such a success.”
Lopez, who also served as bingo caller, said they planned for about 300 guests but welcomed at least 30 more who purchased tickets at the door on the night of the event. Helping to organize and facilitate the fundraiser, in addition to Post and Lopez, were Sierra Vivanco, Lenora “Ponie” Mojado, Amanda Vallin, Julissa Garcia, Ana Garcia and Laura Aldrete. Post said Jacob Rivera and Arturo Horta, who cooked all the food, did an “amazing job” for the event.
“We also had the Family Services Department helping us out with Alicia Golchuk, Desiree Salazar and Jayson Latimer,” Lopez said.
She added that the biggest challenge was strategizing on how to run the games efficiently and the best layout for all the raffle items.
“Tara Placencia, grandmother of (preschool students) Liam and Lelani Grant, was a great help with giving us ideas on how they run their fundraiser events.”
Guests could purchase additional bingo cards as well as colorful daubers to mark off the numbers. There were also more than 30 items available to win for the price of a $1 raffle ticket. Collection bags were put in front of items such as an air fryer and a vintage record player as well as book and game collections that were popular with parents of young children in attendance. A silent auction offered one bidder a one-night stay at the Soboba Casino Resort Hotel that included a $100 voucher for slot play, a $200 dining credit and a free round of golf at the Soboba Springs Golf Course.
Students were encouraged to sell tickets to family and friends in the weeks leading up to the event and the top fundraisers were rewarded for their efforts with Disney character plush toys. Joseph Bentiste was tops with more than 44 tickets sold in advance and several at the door. His family also donated four raffle items. Right after him was Lelani Grant, who sold more than 30 tickets and extra at the door. Her family donated 20 raffle items.
“The highlight of the night was to see the fun everyone was having,” Lopez said. “It was also nice to see the community come together to support our young people. We are all truly grateful.”