CIRCLEVILLE — The annual fundraiser for Pickaway County Toys for Tots, the Chili Cook-Off has gone virtual this year and the fundraiser starts tomorrow.

The Toys for Tots program that provides toys to children of the community that are in need. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the program will be operational this year but with new guidelines for picking up toys and fundraising. The application process and qualifications for the program will remain the same. Each year PICCA hosts a Chili Cook-Off event in early November to fundraise for the event. It features

What will also be different is there will be no in-person chili-cook off this year.

“We discussed it at our board meeting in September that we can’t have it in person this year like we’ve had it in the past but we have our creative minds here working on another type of event we could have,” Becky Hammond, executive director, said.

With that in mind and a test run under their belt, PICCA will be hosting an online silent auction of several items in an effort to raise money to purchase toys and fill in the gaps of donations. They’re calling their event the Virtual Chili Cook-Off. The auction can be found at: https://one.bidpal.net/piccachilicookoff/welcome. PICCA is also accepting cash donations.

“Bidding will begin this Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will conclude Friday at 8:30 p.m.,” Hammond said. “We’ll also have an online video event Friday night at 7 p.m. on our Facebook page.”

Toy distribution will be in December and unlike past years where it’s a shopping experience with people picking out individual toys as part of the items for their child, the items will be bundled together and people will pick a bundle.

“It would be really difficult to sanitize 2,000 to 3,000 toys in between each appointment so we’ve done a sort of hybrid model where we created packages of toys for different age groups and interests and photographed everything,” she added. “The clients will be able to come in and pick somewhat where it’ll be a package instead of individual toys and we’ll go to the shelf and get them for them.”

The system will be set up through a computer portal where parents can view the images.

“If they’re into football, they can search for that and it’ll come up with an image that has a football and other sports stuff,” Hammond commented. “We’ve tried to be creative and hopefully this will be a way they can get things their children like in a no-contact way.”

Signups will begin Sept. 21 and parents or guardians need to stop in the office located at 469 E. Ohio Street between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with documentation on the ages of the child or children and proof of income for the last 30 days. Children 14 years old or younger qualify for the program.

To qualify, families must be at or lower than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines — that’s $32,750 per family of four.

Contact PICCA at 740-477-1655 for more information or to donate.

email scollins@circlevilleherald.com

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