Pulling tabs and giving back: White Bear Avenue Business Association's charitable gambling program

The annual summertime tradition of a city parade brings the whole community together to celebrate. Kids wait patiently for clowns, shriners, beauty queens and dozens of local businesses and organizations to hand out treats and spread the joy of summer.

When choosing a local business over a large corporate chain, customers can rest easy knowing they're helping not just small-time owners, but their neighbors. 

Through the White Bear Avenue Business Association, local businesses are able to give back to the community through donations to nonprofits. And with the association's charitable gambling program, the variety of businesses is continually growing.

Two local bars, The Cherry Pit on White Bear Avenue and Born's Bar on Rice Street, now host exciting gaming nights where customers can not only win for themselves, but win money for local nonprofits, as well. Whether its pull tabs or bingo, patrons can play their favorite games and give back. 

"Through the program we're able to give the biggest impact to the community," says Lisa Theis, the association's program director. "It's really the community giving back — customers help local businesses and help some great organizations."

The program has raised cash for groups from across the community, most recently supporting the East Side Wrestling Team, while helping to fund the District 2 Community Council and the annual White Bear Avenue Parade.

"Many bars partner with nonprofits to help raise funds for them," says Theis, "but through the association there's a bigger reach of where the funding can go."

Along with its charitable gambling program, the White Bear Avenue Business Association partners to support many small businesses in the neighborhood, in turn supporting the community at large.

"The small businesses know that their customers are based in the local area," Theis says. "They know that whatever they can do to help improve their business climate is going to benefit not only their business, but also the customers they have."

When it comes to giving back, it's not just the benefits the business owners receive. 

"There's a sense of accountability," says Theis. "They see themselves as an opportunity to improve the neighborhood."

Beyond, nonprofit organizations act as a bridge between businesses and members of the community.

"Nonprofits fill a gap between government services and independent businesses," Theis says. "By having this program we're all able to really support the organizations filling that gap. By supporting these businesses, and by extension the organization, it's going to come back tenfold to the community"

The White Bear Avenue Business Association also puts on the annual White Bear Avenue Parade, which is July 10.

Says Theis, "It's a great opportunity for business owners and residents to come together and celebrate what this neighborhood means and who we are."

The association still seeks volunteers to help with the parade, and more details about the event will come out later in the year.

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