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The 11th Annual BBQ for the Troops fundraiser is taking place again this summer. Each July, Chicagoland new-car dealers rally together for this grassroots initiative that directly supports the USO. Since 2013, dealers have raised over $1.1M for local troops and their families.

The fundraisers ranged from small lunches, to full community festivals featuring patriotic ceremonies, classic car shows, live music, family games and more.


More than 10 years ago, the CATA and area new-car dealers partnered with the USO to create the Barbecue for the Troops campaign to raise money for our local troops and their families. What started as a few hot dogs and tin can has now grown into an annual festival which brings in thousands of dollars. In fact, the program’s lifetime total is over $1.1 million raised for the USO!


As a participating dealer, the CATA will provide you with a starter kit of marketing materials you will need to get started including outdoor signage, posters and a social media toolkit. The CATA also runs an area-wide marketing and advertising campaign which includes a listing of all participating dealers and is an excellent opportunity for media exposure. The 2023 event had 85+ participating new-car dealers who hosted events that ranged from online fundraisers, to full-blown community summer festivals that included 21 gun salute, live music, bouncy houses, and, of course, a delicious barbecue meal. As we know, dealers have deep roots in their communities and by participating in the Barbecue for the Troops program, dealers can further connect with their customers and contribute to a great cause.

Ways to Participate

There are a few ways you can participate in this year's fundraising campaign. Pick one (or all!) of the ways that make the most sense for your dealership. All levels of participation will be recognized in various marketing efforts. 

  1. Host a BBQ Event
    As in previous years, you can host a BBQ event at your dealership on Saturday, July 13 which will be advertised across the market. These events can range in size from lunch with customers to full-blown community festivals.
  2. Test Drives for Donations
    Drive traffic to your dealership by inviting your community to come and take a test drive at your dealership. For every test drive in the month of July, your dealership will make a donation to the USO. The CATA suggests a minimum of $10 per test drive.
  3. Make a Donation
    If you’re unable to participate in one of the activations in July, you can still make an impact! You can make a one-time donation to the USO and be listed as a BBQ for the Troops donor on
However you choose to participate, we appreciate you being a part of this important initiative and raising crucial funds for the USO.

Questions? Please contact Hayley Feichter at or 630-424-6002.

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Chicago Automobile Trade Association
18W200 Butterfield Rd.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 
(630) 495-2282


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