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Bingo helps pay upkeep for cemetery

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POSTED January 6, 2009 12:50 a.m.
Avid bingo players will have an opportunity to enjoy their favorite hobby and help the struggling East Union Cemetery of Manteca at the same time.
Wednesday, Jan. 8, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., the nonprofit Assyrian-Armenian Cultural Center is hosting one of its regular bingo games at FESM Hall on North Main Street and is dedicating all of the evening’s proceeds to help with the maintenance of the historic cemetery.
Refreshments will be available for all guests.
The Assyrian-Armenian group holds weekly bingo games at FESM to raise money for its scholarship program for senior high school graduates going to college. These fund-raising games are regularly scheduled on Tuesdays, so the Wednesday event to benefit the cemetery is just an extra night that they are dedicating to help maintain the resting place of many of Manteca’s pioneers, early settlers and leaders.
“This is just an extra bingo (night) for us. Our volunteers are ready. The hall is ready. We’re even planning on having free food there to bring in more people. The more people coming in, the better,” said George Khanishian, vice president of the sponsoring group during an interview last month about this special fund-raising event for the cemetery.
People who don’t play bingo are also welcome to attend, he said.
“Instead of paying $25 to play bingo, maybe they can drop a $10 donation. FESM is giving us the hall free,” Khanishian explained.
Established in 2005,  the Assyrian-Armenian organization has members in Manteca, Modesto, Turlock, “and as far south as Los Angeles,” Khanishian said.
He did not have the exact number of members but they are in the hundreds, maybe even up to a thousand,  he said.
Some of their members heard about the plight of the pioneer cemetery, he said, and when one of their customers asked if the organization could make a donation to the East Union Cemetery, Khanishian and his group decided to hold a free bingo night to “generate even more money” for the cemetery.
Khanishian said they decided to step forward and help the cemetery because, “We’re part of the community, too. That’s what we are here for. We’ve even offered to help out physically to clean the cemetery.”
FESM Hall is located on North Grant Street between Yosemite Avenue and Center Street in Manteca.
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