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2 dealerships rewarded for their July efforts on USO barbecues

September 27, 2013
Two Chevrolet dealerships took top awards in this summer’s barbecue fundraisers that the CATA helped coordinate for the USO. Seventy area dealers raised a combined $37,500 for USO programs that support deployed troops, military families, wounded, ill and injured troops and their caregivers, and families of the fallen.
Jennings Chevrolet in Glenview collected $2,528 for the cause, to lead all dealerships, and Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin was judged to have best used social media to promote its barbecue in the days leading up to the July 20 events. Both stores will receive 500 complimentary tickets to the 2014 Chicago Auto Show and a $100 gift card for the employee who went above and beyond for the cause.
In all, 18 dealerships each raised more than $1,000 and 25 stores received online donations in addition to the amounts collected at their barbecue events.
Andy Sweis, who coordinated the Jennings efforts, said the dealership fires up its grill most Saturdays to raise money for a variety of charities and to treat its customers.
“We have a huge base of loyal customers, and they (support) anything that Jim Jennings supports,” Sweis said. “We host a barbecue every Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a specific benefit, where Jennings makes a donation for every vehicle sold during the day.  We also have a donation box located near the grill for customers to donate. 
“We always have huge customer turnout from our 55 years of loyal customers.”
Jennifer Morand, the CATA’s senior public relations and social media manager, said many dealerships tapped into Facebook postings developed by the CATA, but Biggers Chevrolet used all social media channels and even developed two YouTube videos to promote its upcoming barbecue.
“To me, that was the deciding factor” in the store’s win, Morand said.
Mindy Ridenour, the business development manager at Biggers Chevrolet, said: “It’s good to see that our genuine contribution to the USO made such a difference. We truly enjoyed the experience and look forward to participating again next year!”
The USO, a nonprofit, non-political organization, has for 70 years provided Americans with a tangible way to express appreciation and gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of the nation’s troops and their families.