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A northern Illinois restaurant is serving chili for a cause

Unsplash.com - Stephanie Monfette

Chili and toys may seem like a weird combination, but one Illinois restaurant worker figured out a way to bring these two things together for an event that happens Saturday Dec 4.

Susanne Paustian, the event manager at Open Range Southwest Grillin Sugar Grove, said one day after work, she found herself staring at the empty Toys for Tots box at the restaurant.

“And I'm like, ‘man, we really need to do something to maybe fill this up.’ And I had saw something,” she explained. “I don't know why I thought of a chili cook-off. But I just thought it would be a good idea to get people in the door, something different for us to do -- it's cold weather.”

Paustian said she ran the idea pass her Marine Corp husband and he agreed. She said she understands the importance of this type of charity.

“We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up,” she said. “And I remember there being Christmases where -- and I know the Salvation Army does this the angel trees -- we were the recipients of those gifts as kids. So, it just made me think about that.”

She said in addition to collecting toys the restaurant is also taking part in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.

Paustian said those who are interested in donating don’t have to take part in the competition. They can go to the restaurant’s Facebook page to donate. They can taste and vote for the chili by bringing an unwrapped toy directly to the establishment or by donating $10.

The cook-off starts at 11:30 a.m. and continues through 3 p.m. at the eatery, 1 Golf View Road.