Fun and fellowship are in the cards on game night

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Jean Orin participates in Hand and Foot Game Night, playing a game that many players compare to canasta.



Fun, fellowship and food add up to a good deal during Hand and Foot Game Night at Boardman United Methodist Church.

The activity could refer to board games with a “Twister”- type activity thrown into the mix. But it’s not that at all.

It’s a card game that players liken to canasta. Many also call it “hand, foot and mouth” because they play hands of cards, a foot is a card term, and as for mouth, there’s plenty of teasing and conversation to go around.

Bonnie and Ron Babyak, Dorothy and Bob Bradley and Marge and Ken Matteson coordinate the game.

Bonnie Babyak said the group formed in January 2009. A church member played the game elsewhere and suggested it for Boardman UMC.

“We used to play once a month,” she said, adding it was so popular that the group now plays twice a month.

About 30 to 36 people play at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of the month year-round. Sessions are rescheduled if they fall on a holiday. “Mostly it’s older adults who play,” Bonnie Babyak said.

The group is divided into six players at each table, where six decks of cards are used. Players get 11 cards for their hand and 11 for their foot. The aim of the game is to get rid of all cards.

Look up “hand and foot card game” on the Internet to find plenty of sites that explain the rules, plays and points in detail. The easiest way to learn the game is to play, the coordinators said.

“People compete, but it’s all about fun and fellowship,” Bonnie Babyak said. “I’ve been playing cards since I was 7 years old.”

She also noted the card game also is a church outreach. Some players belong to the church; others don’t but all are welcome.

Joyce Rettenmier, a longtime church member, said while the game is fun, it has another bonus. “I think it helps keep your mind and memory agile,” she said.

Another player, Janice Kutsko, called the game “interesting.” A member of the DARE singles group, she said “playing got me hooked” and if she doesn’t play, she “feels withdrawal.”

Doug Conner, church maintenance manager, said while he “likes to play cards,” the setting is wholesome and a good way to socialize.

Becky Braun, a community resident, said, “The game is easy to play. And playing helps keep me busy.” She and some other card players live at Walden Woods condominiums and play regularly at the church. Barb Mauch said she and others from Shepherd of the Valley also like to play because “it’s so easy” and for the companionship.

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