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'Grillsgiving' gives San Antonians a chance to help people pay their electric bills through food

Nearly 30 teams camped out at night to compete for best chicken, ribs, and brisket.

SAN ANTONIO — This Saturday, CPS Energy hosted Grillsgiving, the event was a chance to fill up on award-winning Texas bar-b-que and a chance to help keep the lights on for many families across San Antonio.

As winter approaches and the nights get longer, it's all the more important keeping the lights on.
"We've placed first place and ribs, we've got a third-place brisket and our chicken we've got fourth place," Luke Foster said, describing how his grill team has done in previous years.

Foster is a CPS Energy supply chain worker and a member of the Internation Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 500’s Grill team: The Bulldogs.

"To me it means everything. I mean, I'm a family guy as it is. I love to support different, you know, organizations and help out any way that I can,” Foster said. “We're all in the same boat, and we love to help each other out and help other organizations out as well."
The goal of CPS Energy's Grillsgiving is helping those in need afford their energy bills through the Residential Energy Assistance Partnership (REAP) Fund.
"This fund collects donations and also commitments from CPS energy to provide direct utility assistance to the most vulnerable in our community," said CPS Energy’s Corporate Responsibility Manager, Stephanie Ockenfels.
"Teams started preparing Friday. Nearly 30 teams of volunteers spent the night out at Mission County Park preparing for the cook-off, camping out overnight. That's because some of the foods can take up to eighteen hours to cook."

100 judges’ taste-tested for best chicken, ribs, and brisket. guests were able to vote on their favorites as well.
"Gumbo everybody! Hot gumbo," Mario Langford, event coordinator for LAPCO manufacturing – which supplies CPS Energy with fire resistant apparel, called out over the sound of the speaker sitting next to him.
Gumbo is not a part of the competition, but Langford lights up at the prospect of keeping the cooks fed. He and some of the LAPCO staff drove 7-8 hours from southern Louisiana, to help feed the volunteers.
"It feels good, man, you know, with so much going negative things going on in the world,” Langford said. “It feels good to be able to give back you know.
Fueling their stomachs, so that they can tend the light in the dark."

People who missed the cook-off but would still like to help can learn more about, and donate to the REAP program here.

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