SASKATOON -- A former Rosetown man and his family have been holding bingo nights on Facebook live for the last six weeks to give family and friends something to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don’t want anything for it. It’s just something we started as a family that morphed into allowing other families and seniors and everyone to join in, so we’re just very proud and appreciative that people have stuck with us,” said Scott Walker, who now lives in Wainwright, Alta.

Walker said the idea came after his kids’ hockey games and practices were cancelled due to COVID-19 and they began doing game nights as a family.

He said bingo is a big game for them so they decided to invite friends and family to play online.

“We just thought it would be 25, 30 friends having fun, having a couple drinks on Facebook live and right away people liked it ... it grew every week. The prizes grew, and the people that wanted in.”

Walker said to date, more than 800 people join in and play from across Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

In Saskatchewan alone, around 300 people play, according to Walker.

“We’re just really proud that it’s been able to reach a lot of people and a lot of people can have fun with it in different ways,” Walker said.

His wife Stacey agreed and said “it was a shock for sure. It just kind of took off on us.”

Walker said his whole family is involved in the videos. He does the bingo calling, adding in dad jokes and fun facts. Stacey produces it and takes texts from the players and does all the organizing behind the scenes. His daughter, Peyton, announces the prizes and his son, Carson, dances during the intermissions.

“We just put random songs on and it’s really fun because I got nothing to do,” Carson said.

Ryan Wickett, who is from Rosetown, said Walker is one of his childhood friends and has known him for most of his life.

Wickett said he, his wife and three kids have been participating in the Facebook live bingo for the last five weeks.

“It’s been pretty good. We kind of just did it on the first week because we were looking for something to do and obviously everybody was on lockdown so we needed something to entertain the kids for the night and we’ve got to the point now where the kids are asking when bingo is again and they’re pretty excited about it. So it’s turned out to be a pretty good family event for us,” he said.

Stacey said connecting with people online and playing games like this has helped people stay positive during the pandemic.

“After our first night of bingo, we had so many messages from healthcare workers and others just saying it was so awesome not to think about work or not think about what’s going on in the world around us, and it was nice just having a two hour break to take our mind off things,” she said.

Walker said local businesses and friends and family have donated prizes including customized hats that say “I heart bingo,” gift cards, care packages, food items, among other things.

Walker even drives out to different communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta to deliver prizes to people’s doors.

“I like getting out there, at least just taking the prize and saying hi and hearing stories about bingo. It’s been pretty amazing.”

Walker said he and his family are going to take a two week break, but will continue with the videos later this month and until this pandemic comes to an end.

“We wouldn’t keep doing it if it weren’t for the people.”