Smiles, play surround Family Game Night

Food, board games keep families plugged into each other

Family members gathered outside USO Fort Riley for Unplugged Family Game Night Feb. 17.

“I’m actually very surprised with how busy it is considering the weather was so gorgeous today,” said Crystal Tinkey, center operations and programs manager for USO Fort Riley. “I would imagine, you know, some families may have chosen to stay at home instead, play out in the yard — have a barbecue. But I think the attendance of nearly a hundred people speaks volumes to what we’re doing.”

Within moments of the doors opening, people poured into the building, ready for food and their choice of board games. The staff of USO Fort Riley greeted them as they checked in and directed them to tables.

When asked what families love the most about Family Game Night, Tinkey said the food.

“It’s always the food,” she said. “I think the way to anyone’s heart starts with a good meal. We have been incredibly fortunate to have different restaurants and businesses in our community donate their food for family game night, to help keep our families nourished and entertained.”

Children hurried over to the pool tables after enjoying dinner to pick their favorite board game or try one for the first time. The Griffis family, who regularly attend the monthly event, love the mixture of board games.

“They have a wide variety of games, so we can even experience new games that we haven’t played before,” said Damon Griffis, spouse of Sgt. Baker Griffis, Company G, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

Despite the number of families attending, there was a place for everyone.

“Honestly, I think that it works very well as is,” Tinkey said. “The only thing that I wish we could improve on is having more space to accommodate more families. Often times, we have a wait list for this event, but we have been extremely lucky thus far that we have never had to turn a family away. We’ve always been able to find a way to accommodate them.”

Tinkey pointed out one of the main reasons families attend the event is to embrace the unplugged atmosphere. The USO volunteers encourage families to step away from their computers, set down the tablets and phones, and reconnect with each other. All of the evening activities tie into the mission of keeping families comforted, connected and entertained.

“I just enjoy that it’s so community oriented, you know,” Griffis said. “And that’s what I really like… since I’ve been here, they have so much family and kid-oriented stuff. The USO will help you reach out to your family while they’re deployed, send Christmas cards and help call them. Just to be able to have those resources at the USO is great. It makes you feel comfortable and not hesitant to come up here.

Visit: , pg. 7.

More from USO