By Sean Streicher

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As organizations pivot during the pandemic, some have gotten creative with how they hold events in a safe way.

Such is the case with the Baltimore Station’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. This virtual cook-off is benefitting a good cause.

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For more than 30 years, the Baltimore Station has been helping homeless veterans facing substance abuse and mental health issues.

“These are men who put their lives on the line for us, and just hit a few bumps in the road,” said Kim Callari, Director of Development and Communications.

Treatment includes both residential and outpatient programs, including counseling, therapy and job training. It’s all offered free of charge, which makes fundraising a huge priority and a difficult task in the midst of a pandemic.

“It’s been very hard. The onset of COVID has really, obviously threw a wrench into a lot of things like it did for a lot of organizations,” Callari said.

Getting creative, they’ve powered through. As the time approached for their Sixth Annual Stars, Stripes and Chow Chili Competition, an idea was hatched to hold this year’s event virtually.

Four teams will send their chili recipes to Zeffert & Gold Catering where their professional chef will prepare each recipe.

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“It’s a little nerve-wracking, especially when there’s some titles on the line it’s a little nerve-wracking but it helps push you as a chef,” said chef Matthew Campion.

You at home can order a chili kit, which includes one pint of each type of chili for you to try and vote for your favorite.

Last year’s champ, Lori Cook, came up with the idea and is looking to defend her title.

“This is a fun thing to do with your family and you’re supporting an amazing organization, the Baltimore station, who really need it right now,” Cook said.

Each kit is $60 and includes all the accompaniments you would expect from a chili cook-off. 100% of the proceeds go to the Baltimore Station.

“We are just so happy and so honored at the support we received this year, but especially this year,” Callari said.

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If you want to try this chili, you can be the judge! You can buy your kit on the Baltimore Station’s website.

Sean Streicher