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2014 Chili Cook-Off crowds sample and vote for their favorite chili at Bison Ranch.

By Judy Finnson OLA Parish Secretary

Heber-Overgaard runs on community volunteers, and none are more needed or appreciated than those people who contribute to our local food bank. We have been continuously blessed with people who care about the children and families in our area who often are hungry. Our Lady of the Assumption food bank has even been supported by a couple and their daughter from Florida who visited our town and dropped in to the Second Annual Chili CookOff at Bison Ranch. They wanted to do their part for hungry families and for the past two years they have continued to give, anonymously and substantially, from so far away, knowing how much we count on generous hearts. We know them only as Dotty and Bob and their daughter Holly, but they’re dubbed our “Angels from Florida”. Over the past three years, Stephen Yost at Dominion Group Properties at Bison Ranch, along with his staff and partner, Bret Belko, started the Chili CookOff and continue to organize it. All of the proceeds go directly to our food bank where an average of 80 needy families are fed month after month and year after year. The number of needy families statistic represents 4,987 people, annually, that are helped with boxes of food. Another big contributor is Donna Up
2014 Chili Cook-Off crowds sample and vote for their favorite chili at Bison Ranch. ham who makes her delicious jams and jellies, with all the proceeds again going directly to the food bank. The Pine Needlers quilting group and the Women’s Group at Shepherd of the Pines Methodist Church are also consistent contributors. We couldn’t ask for better leaders whose care and concern for those in need are so appreciated. Merilyn and Bob Smolinski, who lead our food bank volunteer distributors – Carl and Mary Bryant, Bill Newton, Bobbi Zeller, Janie Gonzales, Stephen Yost, Paulette Arendell and Gale Ayers and her children Lucas, Gabe, Veronica and Isaiah work tirelessly in partnership with Arizona’s United Food Bank in Mesa to help feed those in need. They purchase the food from the United Food Bank with locally donated funds and distribute twice monthly. For delivery dates and times, you may call Our Lady of the Assumption’s office at 928-535-5329. If you would like to help and have a fun day at the same time, sign up your Chili Cook-Off Team and plan to spend the day at Bison Ranch on Saturday, July 18th. Lots of people will drop by and sample your recipe and then vote for their favorite. There are activities for the kids and fun to be had for the whole family. Bill Carnes, Donna Doss and The Shoppes at Bison Ranch are more caring people who make this annual event happen. They have played a big part in the continued success of the Annual Chili Cook-Off event and we appreciate their ongoing support. DJ Mr. Music (from Show Low) provides music and has a huge selection of songs from yester-year to today’s top hits for everyone’s enjoyment. He’s another volunteer who continues to support us and help change the lives of our hungry families. Keith Carnes, owner of the Wild Women Saloon & Grill, hosts a beer garden at the event to quench the thirst of attendees.

The Wild Women Saloon & Grill is also open during the event and offers a full menu, including an outdoor patio for enjoyment of our great summer weather. For more information about this event and to obtain a registration form to participate in the event, please visit www.BisonRanchChiliCookoff.net or call Stephen Yost at 480.703.7990.

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Barbara Samples was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and has called Heber-Overgaard home since 2008. She is married to Larry Samples, who is co-owner with her in L & B, Inc., owner of the Mogollon Rim News. They have four (grown) children and two grandchildren. Barbara serves as the Editor.