By CHERIL VERNON
The Vietnam Veterans of America & Associates Chapter 991 have teamed up with the “Toys for Tots” toy drive to hold a chili cook-off and “Fill Up the Truck” event Thursday at Dogwood Trails Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palestine.
A chili cook-off will be held at 10:30 a.m. and a chili lunch at noon. Participants are asked to bring one toy as price of admission to receive a chili lunch with all the trimmings as well as an opportunity to sample the contestants’ chili.
A 2 1/2-ton Army military truck, owned by Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 member Robert Gore, will be on hand to fill with toys.
“Come and enjoy the chili cook-off, a chili lunch and bring a toy to help these children have a ‘Merry Christmas,’” Dogwood Trails activity director Debbie Wesson said.
Event contestants in the chili cook-off include: Crown Health Service, Dogwood Trails Assisted Living and Memory Care, Encompass Home Health, Grace DME & Health Care, IntegraCare, Palestine Resource Center for Independent Living, Triple S Cowboy Church, AirPlusHeat and VVA Chapter 991.
Through the Toys for Tots, a program of the Marine Reserves, the toys will be distributed to military children as well as about 90 local Rainbow Room children in Anderson County.
Sgt. Guadalupe Medina from the Tyler U.S. Army recruiting station also will be present with an information booth.
At 2 p.m., the military truck will be relocated to the Palestine Walmart parking lot at 2223 S. Loop 256.
“We hope to continue with the toy drive and fill the truck with toys until dark,” Wesson said.
Toy donation containers also will be located at various businesses including Walmart, Brookshire’s, Palestine VA Clinic and Dogwood Trails Assisted Living. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 17 for individuals wishing to participate in the toy drive but unable to attend the cook-off event.
Dogwood Trails Assisted Living is located at 1625 W. Spring St. in Palestine. For more information, call Wesson at 903-373-8639 or Hattie Kitchens at 903-729-9596.