By Billy Austin, The Kiwanis Club of Germantown, TN
The Kiwanis Club of Germantown, TN (82 members) was looking for a special fundraising event to support the new global campaign for children, The Eliminate Project. The club had already held one Skip-A-Meal for The Eliminate Project and made a matching fund donation to the Germantown Elementary School K-Kids club. The K-Kids had raised US $700 during their Trick or Treat for UNICEF service project. The Germantown Kiwanis Club already had several major fundraising projects: Golf Tournament, Car Show, Pancake Day, Magic Show, Young Artist Concert, Fall Festival, Fourth of July, etc., but the funds from those events were already dedicated to long standing charities and community services, such as Commission On Missing and Exploited Children, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Madonna Learning Center, Destination Imagination, Oral School for the Deaf, Community Children’s Theater, college scholarships, K-Kids, Terrific Kids, Builders Clubs and Key Clubs, as well as supplying AED’s to local schools.
Bill Griffin, club treasurer, came up with the idea of a combination fundraiser and social event for club members, family and guests, a chili cook-off contest. He presented his idea to the Board of Directors and it was unanimously approved. A date was chosen and since the club has use of the local community center for club meetings, the event was held there. Over the next several weeks the idea was presented to the club members at club meetings, by mail, e-mail, web site, and by club newsletter. It was enthusiastically accepted. Rules were set for the event and sign-up sheets were passed around.
More than 15 teams cooked chili and some cooked corn bread. There were many versions and varieties of chili, some with beef, some with game, such as turkey and venison and some of the teams dressed in costume to represent their style of chili. For example, the venison chili cookers were dressed in camouflage and the western style chili was represented by western dress.
A donation to The Eliminate Project was required to enter or attend the cook-off. Each attendee was given a ballot to vote on the chili and corn bread they liked best. Certificates were awarded to the winners in each category and attendees played Bingo for The Eliminate Project after the contest. This is the first time in years that the club has held this kind of event and more than US$400 was raised for The Eliminate Project. Prospective members were invited and one even joined the club the following week.