Chili cook-off to benefit Children in Need Fund

The Annual Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3188 will host the 11th Annual Chili Cook-off Jan. 26, benefitting the West Texas Center’s Children in Need Fund.The fund helps with the purchase of school supplies, clothing and tuition for summer camps and other financial needs of children who are receiving services from West Texas Centers. More than 2,500 people with a mental illness receive services each month from West Texas Centers, said West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith, LMSW. “This chili cook-off has become a long-standing tradition in Big Spring for many of our local residents and amongst the many veteran cooks who travel the region competing in chili cook-offs,” said Landon Sturdivant, cook-off organizer, a member of the Eagles and West Texas Centers chief operating officer.“We have raised in excess of $10,000 each year the past few years for the Children in Need Fund,” he said. “This fund-raiser has been the primary source of revenue for the children we serve who aren’t provided with regular avenues of funding.”Chili cooks are needed for the competition, Sturdivant said. Teams are limited to two people and the entry fee is $10. Prizes are awarded to the top finishers.“If you don’t cook, don’t let that stop you from participating in the chili cook-off,” Sturdivant said. “We have an unlimited number of tickets for people who like to taste the chili. It’s always a fun time to get your belly full and see old friends and make new ones.”Cooking begins at 8 a.m. and judging gets underway at 11:30 a.m. Tickets for the public are $5 and enable entrants to all the chili they can sample, Smith said. The competition will take place at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3188 Lodge, 703 West Third St. in Big Spring. “The Eagles have been so generous hosting this event year after year,” Smith said. “It has become a staple on our calendar and something our staff and supporters look forward to every year. I don’t know how we would be able to operate without the help of the Eagles. They have been invaluable to our community and our organization.”Last year, the Children in Need fund provided clothes, school supplies, tuition for activities, transportation, cap and gown and many more requests.The fund was established in 2001 to assist families and children who are receiving mental health services.West Texas Centers is the state-designated Mental Health Authority for 23 counties in rural West Texas.For more information on the chili cook-off, contact Sturdivant at 432-264-3247 or email