They say victory is sweet — though in this case it’s more appropriate to say victory is savory and spicy, full of meat and beans.
In May, city of Cottonwood Mayor Timothy Elinski won the Great Sedona Chili Cook-off’s community challenge, beating out Sedona’s city manager Justin Clifton, and winning $250. On Monday, Sept. 25, Elinski took those winnings and donated them to Cottonwood Public Library’s children’s services department toward the purchase of new books and materials.
According to Elinski, the choice to donate to the library only made sense. The cook-off’s organizers, the Rotary Club of Sedona, have always been supporters of children’s library programs, including Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which promotes early childhood literacy by providing free age-appropriate books until age 5.
“I figured that the library would be a good place for it,” Elinski said, praising the library for its efforts to increase literacy and encourage lifelong learning, as well as build connections in the community — just the kind of amiable connections Elinski used when he enlisted Rendezvous in Old Town restaurant owner Jet Foley’s help to make the winning chili.
“I helped her prepare the chili,” Elinksi said. “It was her recipe.”
Without such connections, the library would not have $250 to put toward its young patrons. It’s not a huge amount of money, Elinski admitted, but every dollar counts.
According to Cottonwood Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Joyce Read, the money goes far for the purpose intended. Compared to young adult books, which include pricey volumes and graphic novels, children’s books come at a reduced cost.
“This particular donation was targeted for buying [children’s] books, so I think it’s a sizable donation,” Read said.
In addition to the donation, Read said that she is excited to welcome a new four-footed member to the Paws to Read program, which allows early readers to read aloud to dogs and cats. Ollie, a miniature Australian Shepherd, recently moved into town with his owners and will be on the program in November.
“I’m really trying to push the Paws to Read program, because it’s an opportunity for early readers to come in and read in a safe environment,” Read said, adding that many young readers who struggle with being self-conscious while reading have no trouble reading aloud to an animal.
Other Charitable Donations
Cottonwood Walmart store manager Rebecca Gallup presented a $37,000 check to the Yavapai Food Council Friday, Sept. 29. The hunger-related grant funds come via the the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program, which awards grants in all 50 states to address local needs including food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, disaster preparedness, health, education and other human service issues.
Amy Aossey, executive director of Yavapai Food Council, accepted the check, outlined the council’s efforts and addressed how the funds would be used to alleviate food insecurity in the Verde Valley. Cottonwood Mayor Timothy Elinski congratulated the council and thanked Walmart for its efforts to address an acute concern in the community.