Karen Morrell, chili cook-off chair (left), with Brad Gregory, CEO of A Kid’s Place and Julie Rule, chair of the River Hills Social Team.

By Julie Rule

On February 26, the River Hills HOA hosted its fifth annual chili cook-off at the River Hills Country Club. With 17 competing teams and over 250 attendees, the event was considered another community success.

Julie Rule, chair of the River Hills Social Team, explained, “The goals for the annual event were to provide a fun community event for families, friends and neighbors to gather together; support River Hills Country Club; and partner with a local charitable agency to allow our residents to give back.”

This year, A Kid’s Place (Brandon) was selected to be the chili cook-off’s charity of choice. A Kid’s Place is a local safe haven for foster children. Its campus of homes accepts donations of all kinds, but this event had a wish list with specific needed items. Donations were brought on the day of the event or ordered via Amazon and shipped directly. On-site, a QR code was also available to accept monetary donations. Over $250 in cash and 14 cases of pantry items were donated.

Attendees judged each competing team in these categories: spiciest, most original, people’s choice and grand champion. Each category winner received a River Hills Country Club gift certificate, an engraved wooden spoon and bragging rights. The grand champion’s coveted green apron has also become quite a fun tradition in the River Hills community.

Volunteers signed up in advance to help set up, decorate, work check-in, assist with the contests and kids’ games and tear down/clean up. Students were awarded Bright Futures service hours and neighborhood-resident adults managed the teams.

Kudos go out to this year’s chili cook-off chairperson, resident Karen Morrell. She was instrumental in the preplanning and continuous promotion of the event, and she even acted as emcee throughout the day and presented the awards.

After the event was over, Morrell also had the honor of delivering the pantry donations to A Kid’s Place.

“It was my pleasure to lead this year’s event. I so enjoyed working with Julie, our volunteers and our contestants. The creativity, delicious chili and table presentations were amazing. Our community loves getting together, and this event was no exception. It was a great day and so beautiful to see the outpouring of donations for A Kid’s Place,” said Morrell.

For information on additional events and next year’s cook-off, email Rule at julierule001@gmail.com.

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