Women’s Center to host parking lot bingo fundraiser

Like many other nonprofit organizations, the Montgomery County Women’s Center has had to reimagine what fundraising and outreach looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MCWC’s Director of Residential Services Melanie Jackman had to get creative and the result is a Parking Lot Bingo fundraiser set for Oct. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. The event will be in Parking Lot 2 at Lone Star College-Montgomery off Texas 242. Enter the campus off Achievement Drive, then follow the signs to Parking Lot 2.

Jackman saw a news item at the start of the pandemic where a senior care facility did a parking lot bingo event and she thought the idea sounded like a lot of fun and met social distancing requirements.

She said October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and they had to reinvent how to engage with the community yet still be sensitive to COVID-19 concerns.

Check in is at 6:15 p.m., a welcome will take place at 7 p.m. and the first game begins at 7:15 p.m.

She said participants can play from their cars or bring lawn chairs and sit near their cars. When they check in, a parking spot will be assigned to each participant. They can play outside of their cars, but must remain in their parking space and wear a mask if outside of the vehicle.

It is free to participate. Upon check in, participants will get one card for each game and there will be five games played.

However, if participants would like to get more playing cards, they can donate women’s pajamas to obtain additional bingo cards.

There will be raffle tickets for sale and the prize baskets for bingo wins are valued at $200 each.

When participants check in, they will be offered a menu of snack items and beverages. During the games, they simply flip on their headlines for car service.

A caller will call out the numbers via a PA system in the parking lot.

Jackman said the event will cap at 100 cars and there are still 50 spots left.

Participants can RSVP at igfn.us/form/HJRfJw.

Jackman said this year has been especially difficult for the nonprofit during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 hit right before Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. We had about two weeks to reinvent what our Sexual Assault Awareness Month would look like. Typically we’d be going out to schools and colleges for outreach. But everything moved online,” Jackman said.

Additionally fundraising has been a challenge. “The majority of nonprofits have experienced a 30 to 40 percent reduction in grants due to COVID-19,” she said.

During the month of August, statistics from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office indicated that domestic violence was up by 43 percent, Jackman said.

The Montgomery County Women’s Center provides a 24-hour hotline, safe shelter, crisis intervention, counseling, advocacy and legal services to survivors of family violence, sexual assault and stalking. The agency has served Montgomery County and surrounding counties for more than 30 years.

For more information,

Collect Shopping Carts Safely and Efficiently – How to Keep Your Parking Lot Clean

Scattered shopping carts create quite the inconvenience for not only store owners but for customers as well. When carts are not put away in the proper location they are not available for customer use and are often scattered in the parking lot requiring store personnel to run around and collect them. Lost carts found throughout the city are a public nuisance that ordinances are being put into effect requiring stores to manage their shopping carts or they will be fined. Each collection solution has advantages and disadvantages which are detailed further below.

There are a number of effective ways stores can retrieve their carts. Stores can use equipment called a cart pusher, puller, retriever, or cart manager. Stores can also hire additional personnel to physically retrieve the shopping carts scattered throughout the parking lot. Award systems are also used to provide customers with incentives to bring them back to the appropriate destination once they are done using them. Corrals and search teams can also be used to help control wandering carts. Lastly, a pull rope can help employees retrieve shopping carts more efficiently than collecting them individually or just a few at a time.

A motorized cart pusher, also known as a puller, retriever, or cart manager makes retrieving shopping carts safe, fast and easy! Here is how one type of retriever available works: first you place the cart's back wheels effortlessly into the cart-cradle nesting cups. Some systems require bolting the cart onto the pusher but the nesting cup option protects the grocery-cart from damage that can occur when bolted on as well as gives you availability to use all of your fleet at any time. Next, the rest of the fleet is collected and nested onto the first one that is sitting in the cart-cradle nesting cups. A safety strap is placed over the entire row and attached to the first which is in the nesting cups so they all can be pushed safely to their destination. Some of these pushers utilize a remote control to push the row in the designated direction. Many motorized retrievers are built with a strobe light and brake light to provide greater visibility to those surrounding cars and pedestrians. These retrievers can retrieve a high volume of carts and only one person is needed to operate one. Motorized pushers can retrieve 3 to 4 times more shopping carts than a single person can, thus reducing the store's labor costs. Retrievers also reduce liabilities from injury as employees can effortlessly retrieve the carts with the use of this type of equipment. No straining comes from pushing or pulling an entire row. The upfront cost to purchase a machine is quickly recouped from the reduced labor and liability costs.

Another method to collect shopping carts is to hire additional personnel to go around the parking lot to retrieve the shopping carts by hand and bring them back to the appropriate location so that they may be available for customer use. This method does however, …