If the most intense competition on family game night involves who wins control of the Xbox, St. Francis Altar Guild's annual Game and Card Party fundraiser is a welcome throwback to the days of board games and the bonding and interaction that comes with a spirited round on Scrabble.
"The Altar Guild puts this on, and we have two primary purposes for this game party," said Elise Mathias, chairwoman of the event and an active Altar Guild member since 2008.
"One of them is to provide a place for people to come together to play some games and enjoy the company of their families and their friends.On the sideline, we also hope to raise money to support our Altar Guild."
Charged with caring for and cleaning the altar, the vestments of the priests, preparing the altar before service, as well as assisting with the organization of church events, the Altar Guild of the St. Francis of Assisi Parish is composed entirely of women and has been in existence since long before Mathias began attending the church 25 years ago.
"I think it goes something like, after the apostles, there's the Altar Guild," laughed Mathias. "In addition to caring for the altar, for instance, when the church has a funeral, we help set up and serve coffee, to help take some of the burden off of the families. We also reach out to other churches in the community. If they're very small, sometimes we'll provide an altar for them."
The Game and Card Party's $5 entry fee gets participants an afternoon of unlimited bridge, poker and loteria (sometimes called "Mexican bingo"). The Altar Guild also will provide an assortment of board games (Scrabble, Sorry, Monopoly and others) for families to enjoy as a group.
"The last couple of years, bingo has been the big draw," said Mathias. "We've got probably about 40 people who come out to play bingo each year. There will also be some Bunco games, and families are welcome to bring their own board games. We really just want to bring people together so they can have a fun time."
For loteria winners, there will be several prizes, ranging in quality from from "nice" to "white elephant." There will be drawings for three cash door prizes, ranging from $150 to $350, and a raffle for 30 unique gift baskets. Mathias, an avid Skip Bo player herself, wants to ensure that families have a great way to spend an afternoon together.
"I think family people will really enjoy this. I'm thinking parents and children, grandpas and grandmas who can bring their grade-school grandchildren and teach them how to play the games they played when they were young. Games don't have to be found on a computer; you play them with other people."