A chili cook-off benefitting the local Shop With A Cop program was held Thursday after a previous fundraiser fell through.
This will mark the 10th year for the Shop With A Cop program and thousands of dollars have been raised to help hundreds of children over the years in Highland and surrounding counties. This year will be no different as the Highland County Peace Officer’s Association is finalizing plans for the the annual day, which happens this year on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The association will provide a day of fun and shopping for Highland county children that are nominated by their school, and that might not otherwise have a happy holiday.
The day will begin with children enjoying breakfast with their officer escort for the day. After breakfast, the group will enjoy a parade of law enforcement vehicles complete with lights and sirens as they travel to Walmart to shop. Each child shops for gifts for themselves as well as their family members. After shopping is complete, the kids are treated to lunch and then a holiday movie before they are escorted to a party where gifts are wrapped before the day comes to an end.
The inaugural Highland County Sheriff’s Office Chili Cook-off was held in the lobby of the Highland County Justice Center in Hillsboro. Eleven crock-pots full of chili represented the 11 contestants, including Sheriff Donnie Barrera, with the entrants vying for a black apron and Olympic-style medal awarded to the winner.
According to Barrera, the chili contest was conceived as a response to the department not being able to man a booth this year at the Highland County Fair, where it formerly sold drinks to raise funds for the Shop With A Cop. Without the fair funds, the sheriff’s office was left searching for a way to raise money, and the chili contest was born. Barrera said it will be an annual event.
From the 11 chili entries, the winning recipe was created by Brandon Young, a sheriff’s office deputy.
Those organizing the event said special thanks goes to Barrera for hosting the event and providing prizes, and to Vinny Antinore for coordinating the event. Judging the competition were Judge David McKenna, former Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels and Katie Adams, Highland County Job & Family Services director. All proceeds stay in Highland County for the Shop With A Cop program.
The Highland County Peace Officers Association relies on fundraising and donations to fund the event. Donations can be sent to HCPOA, P.O. Box 1856, Hillsboro, Ohio, 45133. Anyone wishing to donate supplies for gift wrapping can drop them off at the Highland County Justice Center or Hillsboro Police Department.
Mark Branham is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.