Chicago dealers continue supporting troops and their families


Chicago Automobile Trade Association chairman Kevin Keefe says the instinct to help others “is deeply rooted within local car dealers.”

“And they’re among the first to roll up their sleeves and help when people need it most,” Keefe said in a news release.

Chicagoland’s new-car dealers for the past seven years have supported hometown heroes by hosting Barbecue for the Troops community fundraisers for the USO of Illinois.

CATA acknowledged this year is unique, and local dealers know a need exists to help local military families. Because of that, dealerships are asking the public to visit their businesses on Oct. 3 to donate to the USO of Illinois. Or the public can do that any time throughout the month of October.

The partnership between CATA — which includes more than 400 franchised dealers and 150 allied members — and the USO of Illinois dates back to 2013. That’s when the first Barbecue for the Troops fundraisers took place. Nearly 600 fundraisers later, local dealerships have achieved community support of the USO of Illinois, raising nearly $900,000.

That funding goes to local military serving on the home front during the COVID-19 pandemic and on the frontlines around the world.

Keefe says that although the current times are challenging, dealers want to make a difference.

“While the USO Barbecue for the Troops campaign is just one of many charitable initiatives that dealers support, it’s a perfect example of how these local businesses can rally their communities like not many can to all come together around one great cause.”

USO of Illinois executive director Christopher Schmidt said the support of local new-car dealers and their hometown communities during these challenging times is important.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the brave men and women who wear the cloth of our nation continue their mission without pause, deploying around the world as well as here at home in support of the fight of COVID-19 across Illinois,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt continued, “USO stands with our service members and their families as the ‘Force Behind the Forces,’ continuing to provide essential services, programs and activities even through the pandemic. Thank you to all our local dealerships and their patrons, without whom we could not continue our mission.”

CATA is also helping people get involved on social media. Beginning Sept. 21, fans visiting Drive Chicago on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can nominate someone who they feel deserves to win the contest’s grand prize, the #BBQ4Troops Ultimate At-Home BBQ.

The prize includes a Real Urban Barbecue catering gift card, barbecue essentials for at-home grilling and a Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane-autographed hockey puck.

Those visiting can see the complete listing of dealership fundraisers on Oct. 3 and can get details on how to make an online donation.

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