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Not Blowing Smoke: Ribfest Raised $20,000 For 12 Local Schools And Nonprofits

Checks will be awarded to groups who participated in the event's volunteer grant program on Aug. 14.

Ribfest 2018
Steven E. Gross/North Center Chamber of Commerce
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NORTH CENTER — Groups who took part in this year’s volunteer grant program at Ribfest will be presented with grant checks this month.

Ribfest Chicago is sponsored by the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the event benefit neighborhood philanthropy and community programs.

“From the beginning, Ribfest Chicago was conceived as a fundraiser that would help fund the chamber’s community events, programming and other initiatives supporting community and business development,” said Lindsay Eanet, the chamber’s executive director.

To that end, the chamber launched a volunteer grant program in 2007 which has helped Ribfest Chicago reinvest more than $350,000 into local schools and nonprofits.

Groups that empower youth, fight hunger and provide essential social services sign up for the grant program, and then volunteer at Ribfest.

“This year, more than 540 volunteers representing 12 local schools and nonprofits helped make Ribfest Chicago happen,” she said.

Groups who volunteered at this year’s Ribfest include:
• Blue Sky Bakery
• Common Pantry
• Friends of Coonley
• Friends of Ravenswood
• GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago
• Horner Park Advisory Council
• Lane Tech Boys Lacrosse Boosters
• Lane Tech Lady Warriors Swim Team
• Lane Tech Women’s Soccer Association
• Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club
• St. Benedict Youth Ministry
• Thresholds

Additionally, North Center Chamber philanthropy committee selected Leor Weber as this year’s Garrett FitzGerald Scholarship recipient.

In 2017, the chamber launched the Garrett FitzGerald Memorial Scholarship to honor FitzGerald’s legacy of community service, friendship and leadership.

Known as the “Pope of Rib Town,” FitzGerald was the former executive director of the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce. He died from cancer in 2015.

Since its launch, the annual scholarship supports a high school junior at one North Center’s high schools who demonstrates leadership qualities and serves their school and community.

The $1,000 scholarship is intended to assist a high school junior with defraying costs of the college application process, including application and test fees and travel costs of college visits.

Weber, a student at Jones College Prep, began a community garden project in North Center last summer, donating the produce grown there to Common Pantry.

Weber is also the founder and first president of the North Center Neighborhood Association’s Junior Board, which brings teens together to improve their neighborhood.

“We were thinking about Garrett when we made our decision, the kind of qualities he admired and who he would have wanted to take on and mentor,” Eanet said. “The committee was impressed with Leor’s commitment to empowering and engaging his peers in serving the Northcenter community.”

The grants and scholarships will be awarded by the chamber at a special event at 6:15 p.m. Aug. 14 in the parking lot of Wintrust Bank, 4017 N. Damen Ave.

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