Buckley claims $7,500 prize in Twin River charity blackjack

Buckley claims $7,500 prize in Twin River charity blackjack

Valley Breeze Sales Director Karen Buckley, left, won $7,500 for the Lime Rock Baptist Church Community Garden and Food Pantry in Lincoln at Tuesday's inaugural Twin River Casino Holiday Charity Blackjack Tournament. Thirty-six community leaders were selected to play for various charities across the state, and Twin River awarded $60,000 in total to those charities. Also among the winners were, from left after Buckley, Sec. of State Ralph Mollis, $3,500 for the MS Dream Center; state Rep. Lisa Tomasso, $2,500 for the Coventry Community Food Bank; Dale Venturini, $5,000 for the R.I. Hospitality Education Foundation; state Rep. Scott Slater, $10,000 for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Food Pantry; and state Sen. Mike McCaffrey, $1,500 for the R.I. Academic Decathlon. At rear center is John Taylor, Twin River's Chairman of the Board.

LINCOLN - Karen Buckley, The Valley Breeze's director of advertising sales, filled in for Publisher Tom Ward Tuesday and won $7,500 for the Lime Rock Baptist Church Community Garden and Food Pantry, courtesy of Twin River Casino. She finished second among 36 contenders to state Rep. Scott Slater, who won $10,000 for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Chruch Food Pantry.

Said Buckley, "my heart was pounding and my hands were sweaty" as she closed in on the big prize. "I had not played blackjack since college, and went over it online with my son, Johnny, the night before to prepare for the tournament. The people at Twin River were also really helpful in going over the rules of play, so they made it easy." As for her secret to success, Buckley said "I was careful with my cash, always keeping a bit in reserve."

"I'm glad I had to work on the newspaper," said Ward, who was filling in for vacationing News Editor Nancy O'Halloran on the copy desk. "Karen did a great job at the blackjack table, certainly better than I would have done."

Ron Rivet, Lime Rock church moderator and a 25-year church member, said when he learned of Buckley's big win, "We're elated! It is way beyond what I thought would actually happen. The community garden volunteers will actually be able to plan its growth two to three years out, and be proactive in its evolution."

Rivet, an employee of Amica Insurance, is also allowed by Amica to spend one day each year volunteering in the garden and food pantry. The pantry's leaders are Bob Potts and Steve Cranshaw, while this past year, Deb Cadd led the effort in the garden.

Rivet expects that the garden will be expanded, and its irrigation system made more efficient with the funding. The garden grows tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, lettuce and some herbs for summer distribution at the pantry. Some vegetables were lost to animals in the past year, and so funds will be used for expansion and new fencing, according to Rivet.

Other groups who benefitted from the Twin River Casino's $60,000 in grants were: the R.I. Community Food Bank, United Way of R.I., Care of Handicap Accessible Ramps & Renovations, Inspiring Minds, Lincoln Animal Shelter, The R.I. Good Neighbor Energy Fund, Rhode Island Brain and Spine Tumor Foundation, The Milk Fund, Crossroads of Rhode Island, Woodlawn Catholic Regional School, Johnston Little League, Big Brothers of Rhode Island, American Cancer Society, St. Mary's Feast Society, Hearthside, Warren Senior Center, Join Our Neighborhood And Help, The Boys & Girls Club of East Providence, Amos House, Kent County YMCA, Women's Center of R.I., Historic Metcalf-Franklin Farm Preservation Association, Adoption Rhode Island, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Environmental Education Programs, East Greenwich Animal Protection League, Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Providence College - Mal Brown Club Scholarship Fund, The Potter League For Animals, and the Warwick Angels.