Chicagoland's new-car dealers are once again on a summertime mission to raise awareness and funds for local military and their families. For the seventh consecutive year, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) and its dealer members have partnered with the USO of Illinois to host Barbecue for the Troops grassroots community fundraising events throughout the area on Saturday, July 13. To date, 110 dealerships have signed on to support the cause, and are planning to offer everything from patriotic ceremonies, classic car shows, live music, games for kids of all ages and - of course - barbecue.
Over the past six years, CATA dealers have rallied to raise more than $750,000 to support USO of Illinois programs and services with more than 500 fundraisers taking place. These funds enable the USO of Illinois to lend support to more than 326,000 service members and their families annually.
Even though the month has just begun, the CATA reports a total of $5,000 already raised. The contribution came from Ally Bank in honor of CATA dealer and principal of Apple Chevrolet in Tinley Park, John Alfirevich, being named 2019 Time Dealer of the Year. Ally is a presenting sponsor of the award.
"CATA dealer members employ roughly 20,000 people throughout Chicagoland, and these dealers are already deeply rooted within their communities," said CATA Chairman Bill Haggerty. "So, when the opportunity for dealers to host BBQ for the Troops fundraisers was presented to us, the dealers seized the opportunity. The USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative is one great example of the vital role that dealers play to help people in need, right in their backyard," said Haggerty.
"For the seventh year in a row, the USO of Illinois is proud to partner with the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and local new-car dealers for the USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative," said USO of Illinois President and CEO Alison Ruble.
"The USO Barbecue for the Troops program has raised more than $750,000 to support local troops and their families. The support of service members' hometown communities and local new-car dealerships has allowed the USO of Illinois to aid more than 326,000 service members and their families annually through hundreds of programs and services. Neighbors helping neighbors through initiatives like Barbecue for the Troops makes communities even stronger and joining your local dealership for their BBQ in July is a great way to get involved! From the USO of Illinois and all those who serve our nation, we thank you for your generous support," Ruble continued.
For those who can't visit a USO Barbecue for the Troops event on July 13, there's still an opportunity to get into the action via social media. Beginning July 1, the CATA and USO of Illinois are accepting contest entries for the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue. The winner receives a catered meal by Real Urban Barbecue and a special guest appearance by Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador Chris Chelios. Submit your nominations via the contest entry form or upload a photo and caption with #BBQ4Troops tagging @DriveChicago on Twitter or @Drive_Chicago on Instagram. The winner will be announced on or around August 1.