By Kathy L. Collins

AMVETS (American Veterans) Post 44, which is located in Plant City, will hold its first ever Casino Night. “Bets For Vets” will be held on Friday, March 10 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Post located at 5521 SR 60 East on Plant City. Proceeds raised at the event will benefit The Athena House, a special housing facility for female veterans.

Attendees simply make a $20 donation at the door and in exchange they receive 5,000 points in the form of gaming chips to wager at any of the Las Vegas style gaming tables. You can try your luck at blackjack, roulette, craps or Texas hold-em style poker. At the end of the night, attendees can turn in their remaining chips for raffle tickets.

In addition to fabulous gaming, attendees can treat themselves to a delicious pulled pork BBQ dinner complete with all of the fixings and dessert for just $5.

John Renda with AMVETS Post 44 said, “This is the first time that we have held a casino night fundraiser. We are very excited about it.” Renda explained that sponsorships, which start at $200, will cover the costs to put on the event.

Renda said, “The Athena House was chosen as the benefactor for several reasons. Ending homelessness for veterans, along with suicide prevention, is a top priority.” Renda added, “Women veterans often fall through the cracks.” Athena House, the first in the nation and the only one in Florida, is a 16-bed transitional housing facility. Women can stay for up to 24 months. They are provided with counseling and life skill classes. In addition, they are given educational and vocational training which allows them to re-enter the job market.

AMVETS is the oldest veterans service organization in the nation and is comprised of veterans who have served their country. The Sons of AMVETS and Ladies Auxiliary are subordinate groups for veterans’ family members.

Throughout the year, AMVETS organizes several fundraisers to help support veteran causes or quality of life programs in the community. This includes Friday night dinners, an Annual Golf Tournament on April 14, the annual Patriot Day Celebration and 9/11 Remembrance at Veterans Memorial Park. They also host the only police escorted Toys for Tots Toy Ride in November.