Every day you can find members of the Waxahachie Junior Service League helping in the community, whether it be delivering meals to shut-ins for Meals-on-Wheels or helping educate elementary age children about fine art through the Go Van Gogh program.

Last Saturday night, those same volunteers – alongside others from the community – were rolling dice and placing bets at the black-jack, Texas hold ’em, craps and roulette tables set up in the Town Square Loft for Casino Night.

It has been the league’s practice to hold two major fundraising events, an annual Christmas Market and a bi-annual winter fundraiser.

In recent years, the organization’s bi-annual winter fundraiser has been an art auction. But it was decided this year to try something different.

“This is our group’s first casino night. It seems like it’s going to turn out to be a fun night,” Melissa McClain commented about the event shortly after the party had begun.

“I hope it raises a lot of money for many good causes,” added Amy Perry.

“We have some great prizes,” said Margie Jeffcoat of the gifts that were donated by businesses or purchased by WJSL members and brought to the event to be given away as prizes.

“It’s good for our community,” said Jeffcoat of the event.

“We’re always looking for unique ways to help fund all our long-term charitable projects. Right now it’s the Gingerbread House (children’s advocacy center),” said Dana Walker of the group’s current long-term charitable project.

“It appeals to a lot of people here in Waxahachie,” said Christi Davidson of the casino night theme. Davidson pointed out that many of the local businesspeople who donated prizes for the event were also attending the event.

Members of Knights of Columbus of Waxahachie served as dealers for the evening and live entertainment was provided by Rich Armstrong and a jazz ensemble. Those in attendance also enjoyed a buffet catered by Rose Cameron of the BBQ Pit, reported Casino Night chairperson Rainey Hicks.

The goal of the WJSL is to foster interest among its members in the civic conditions of the community and to make their volunteer service efficient.

“(WJSL) donates money to 28 community organizations every year and we have 42 of our members working in the community in their job placements, as well,” said Hicks, explaining that the group currently has 45 active members: the president, the placement chairperson, the treasurer and the 42 active members mentioned.

“We have one-long term project that we sponsor and numerous others that are on a year-to-year basis that we help fund,” said Hicks. “In addition, every active member gives six years of service, which includes 70 hours per school year of volunteer work.”

After serving as an active member and meeting volunteer requirements, active members go on to become sustaining members, of which there are currently approximately 100 in the organization. Hicks noted that many active members volunteer well beyond the required number of hours and that sustaining members often continue to serve as volunteers in many different capacities in the community.

“Many of our members, through their volunteer work, have become interested in particular charitable organization and have gone on to contribute in other ways, such as serving as board members for particular organizations,” said Hicks, explaining that working as a volunteer “creates an interest in that field and they can take it and do what they want to with it.”

WJSL contributes monetarily and serves as volunteers for local charities that benefit children, seniors, persons in need and the arts.

E-mail Jennifer at jennifer.howell@wninews.com.