TOOELE, Utah – One Utah community is using the ‘Stay Safe. Stay Home.’ directive to their benefit – implementing a series of games to help residents have fun, stay connected and support local businesses.
In a world of social distancing and staying home, Utahns have turned to the old classics to help them stay safe, stay home and stay sane. Namely puzzles, cards and board games galore!
It didn’t take long before one local community jumped on the bandwagon introducing a series of games they call, ‘lay it on the table.’
“Stay home and stay safe… we hear it and we hear it and we hear it, but I think if we have something that is distracting our mind while we do that, maybe more people will stay home,” said local realtor and well-known Tooele community member, Patty Deakin-Dale
So, Patty got to work.
“We [Patty and a friend] were talking about different ways in order to keep people occupied,” said Patty. “I said, ‘Bingo could work!’ We got off the phone and I started going crazy!” she laughed.
Just like that, Tooele County Bingo was born.
It’s just like regular Bingo except the cards are filled with a mix of mental, physical and community-oriented tasks. Things like, reading something inspirational, thanking an essential worker, drinking enough water, getting outside and above all supporting local business.
“Just different things to kind of keep your mindset good and then also it was really important to me that we continue to support our local businesses,” Patty said.
Each week a new Bingo card is introduced. Each one features different businesses, or different squares that encourage people to support local businesses in general.
‘Buy a gift card to your favorite local business,’ one reads. ‘Buy a drink from a local drink shop,’ and ‘order take out of from a local business,’ are some of the others.
“Every business that we have employs people and every business that we lose means that somebody doesn’t have a job,” said Patty. “Every business that closes down means that our economy is in worse shape, when we come out of this we need a strong community.”
Each week one winner takes home a gift card that was donated by one of the local businesses.
“As soon as it started I had five emails in my inbox from different businesses saying I’ll donate a gift certificate,” said Patty.
Patty even said some of the more popular restaurants offered to donate gift cards to their competitors, to help the love go around.
“When all of this is over, we don’t want to lose any of our good businesses that we have out here.”
Patty said they have also introduced word search games -- some ask people to find all of the drinks featured on a local soda shop’s menu, others ask players to find the names of as many local restaurants and drink shops as they can.
Next up, a karaoke contest – in which residents can record themselves singing and then send it in for other community members to vote on via social media, and a pancake contest which will be sponsored by a local restaurant.
“If you’ve got the support of your community and you’ve got the support of your local businesses, what else do you need?” Patty smiled.
As of now, hundreds of Tooele residents are participating in the games. Patty said ultimately, the games will slow down once people can return to work, but she will keep providing them as long as the community is interested.
“This [the pandemic] is hard and it would be easy to just kind of say, ‘eh, it’s not going to happen to me,’ but it is, it’s going to touch all of us eventually,” said Patty. “[The games] just kind of distract you for a minute and really, that’s what it’s all about right now.”