HUNTINGTON, NY — When the coronavirus outbreak forced Long Islanders to remain at home, Michael McCourt saw an opportunity to do some good. Several weeks later, he's raised thousands of dollars for multiple charities through virtual trivia nights called Homebound Trivia.
McCourt, of Huntington, used to host a weekly trivia night at Christopher's, an American restaurant at 8 Wall St., before he began teaching social studies at Bethpage Senior High School. He ended up re-assuming that role.
"I was looking for something to do when quarantine started (like everyone), and I missed my old hosting gig," McCourt told Patch via email. "I knew that the virus was taking an enormous medical and economic toll, and there were a lot of people in need. I loved hosting and didn't want to charge for the event, so I figured we could benefit charity."
So far, money has been raised for Feeding America, Doctors Without Borders, The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, and Oxfam America.
Originally, the trivia nights were geared towards McCourt's family and friends, as he didn't think the public would be interested. However, a lot of people signed up, and they invited people they knew. The first trivia night featured 70 teams, and each one after that has had over 100.
"I'm flabbergasted," McCourt said.
He plans on hosting virtual trivia nights as long as there's interest and people want to play. The games were initially planned as a temporary thing, but McCourt said it's been so much fun, he'd love to keep going indefinitely.
The next Homebound Trivia Night is scheduled for 9 p.m. June 13; a Saturday. Money will be raised for Black Lives Matter, according to McCourt.
$1,075 was raised for Feeding America on the trivia night's maiden voyage on April 17, according to Christine Corcoran, a friend of McCourt's. Then, $2,218 was raised for Doctors Without Borders on May 2. Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was the chosen charity on May 17 when $2,590 was raised. On May 30, $2,100 was donated to Oxfam America.
"While it has been difficult to stay isolated from family and friends during this time, it has been an exciting event to play trivia with Michael," Corcoran said. "He has dedicated his free time to charitably organize these trivia nights."