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Bowmanstown trivia night a winner for CACPAC

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    Leeann and Bruce Koch load up boxes of nonperishable food donations at Bowmanstown Volunteer Fire Company for a delivery to CACPAC. The fire company was able to gather almost 200 food contributions, along with $50 in cash, from one trivia night. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS

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    Leeann and Bruce Koch have run the trivia night at Bowmanstown Volunteer Fire Company for the past five years. Just recently, they decided to add a bonus challenge to the game — for every five food items contributed, a team could earn one extra point, up to five points per team. The Kochs said they may do a similar drive in the future in order to benefit an animal shelter.

Published June 12. 2018 12:55PM

Q: What is the best way to quickly round up nonperishable food donations for the Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches?

A: Collect those donations at the Bowmanstown Volunteer Fire Company trivia night.

Bowmanstown has been running its ever-popular trivia night for over five years. The brainchild of Assistant Chief Bruce Koch’s daughter Leeann, the event usually draws up to and beyond 100 participants eager to test their knowledge on the first Saturday night of each month. But, this past month, the Kochs decided to try something a bit different.

“We have three rounds of 10 to 15 questions, and between rounds two and three we always do a physical challenge,” Bruce said.

“It’s some silly little thing — trying to get a Ping-Pong ball in a cup or unwrapping bubble gum with oven mitts and blowing a bubble. If they’re successful, they can earn extra points. This last month, instead of having a physical challenge, we asked them to bring in nonperishable food items. For every five items that they brought in, their team got an extra point, up to five points.”

While the Kochs were uncertain of how people would respond, they gave the donation gimmick a shot.

“When you do something the first time, you never know how it’s going to turn out. But when we walked in, there were people with boxes on their tables, waiting to give. It worked out well,” Leeann said. “When we saw people bringing in more and more food and money, it was a solid validation that we started something good.”

At the end of the night, Bruce said, they had collected over 190 food donations, along with $50 in cash contributions.

In the future, Leeann said that the fire house may host a similar event benefiting a local animal shelter.

What started over five years ago as a way to increase funding for a dwindling reserve has blossomed into an incredible success story.

Thanks to trivia night, the fire company has been able to purchase a projector screen system. Over the past six months, the Kochs have collected more than double the funds that they need for the end-of-the-year Christmas party, thanks to proceeds from food and alcohol sales.

“This has turned into one of the big moneymakers of the month,” Bruce said.

Leeann said that trivia night has become a bonding event as well, with her brother Daniel, who is a volunteer firefighter himself, pitching in.

“It’s kind of become a family thing, too. We run up front, and my brother, who is also a firefighter here, he’ll be running food and the kitchen. He’s been a godsend on some nights,” she said.

Thanks to the wild popularity of trivia night, the Kochs can rest easy knowing that they will have plenty of available funding for the fire company, and that they will be able to pass on the good will to the community as well.

“It’s been very rewarding, but nothing has felt as good as that day,” Leeann said in regard to the CACPAC contribution night.

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