Noli Indian School gives back with Bingo for Books


For more than 10 years, the Noli Indian School has organized a Bingo for Books night where the community is invited to join in the fun. The free event, held at the multi-purpose room adjacent to the Soboba Tribal Preschool, is made possible through a reading grant the school receives. Noli Principal Donovan Post, who was joined by his son at the March 8 event, said it was great to see a lot of his students there but also to see them with their siblings and other family members.

Eli Pineda, 7, picks out a prize after winning a round of Bingo at Soboba, March 8. | Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

A graduation requirement for seniors at Noli is the completion of 20 hours of community service and a few pitched in at the event to earn some of those hours. Suzette Almada and Brianna Caserez helped out by dispensing bingo cards and plastic chips, verifying winning cards and more. Caller Raymond Russell, with the help of a megaphone, was able to keep the numbers rolling along.

Noli senior Suzette Almada, standing, verifies winning numbers at the Noli hosted Bingo for Books night.

Science teacher Sabrina Sobel and AVID/ASB coordinator Lorin Alvarez were on hand to keep things on track as more than 60 players anxiously awaited their turn to hopefully call out “BINGO!” Math teacher Kekai Bryant-Williams was happy to participate as were other staff members from the Soboba Reservation school that serves Native American students in grades 6-12. Noli School Board members Lucille Briones, Johnna Valdez and Antonia Venegas also brought family members to enjoy the event.

Squishmallows were popular with all the Bingo winners during the Bingo for Books night, offered by Noli Indian School at the Soboba Indian Reservation.

Soboba Tribal Preschool teacher Lenora “Ponie” Mojado was joined by her two sons and her mother. The lucky family went home with lots of prizes, with Mac Pineda, 9, being the night’s first winner. His brother Eli, 7, won a few rounds later, as did his mom and grandma. The preschool is hosting a Bingo Night fundraiser on March 21 and Mojado said this was good practice for that one.

Noli senior Raymond Russell calls the Bingo numbers during the free community event, March 8.

Prize packages contained STEM toys and games related to the books inside that had been purchased at Barnes & Noble. Each contained popular titles for all ages and the Noli students helped staff bundle them together. With Legos and Squishmallows galore, it was hard for young children to decide which plastic-wrapped package they most wanted to take home.

Noli senior Suzette Almada, helps a young Bingo winner reach his choice of prizes during her school’s Bingo for Books night.

Guests were also treated to a delicious spaghetti dinner that included garlic bread and salad that was prepared in-house by Community Lead Cook Jacob Rivera.

Bingo numbers were called, and cards were filled until a total of five players won. Then the cards were cleared, and another five games were played, or less if there were five winners. No one could win more than once so there could be more winners throughout the evening.

Bingo for Books on March 8 was celebrated at Soboba’s multi-purpose center.

“This event has been going on for years,” Post said. “We receive $35,000 to $60,000 a year through a reading grant that allows us to restock our library, provide necessary textbooks for our students, give awards and prizes for meeting reading goals and to celebrate Dr. Seuss week.”

Some of the bundled prizes created as prizes for game players attending Bingo for Books at Soboba.

He said under the grant, they are always looking for ways to celebrate reading and are happy they developed a way to give back to the families and community members that support the students and Noli school. The annual event started as a small venture but with the help of Noli Reading teacher Jacquelin Phillips, it has grown immensely over the years.


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