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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Hyde Park Neighborhood Club Goes Virtual With Annual Pancake Breakfast To Keep Fundraiser Alive

Participants can post photos, videos or Facebook Live streams of their breakfast-making process to the neighborhood club's Facebook page Sunday morning.

Angela Habr
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HYDE PARK — The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club can’t hold one of its biggest fundraisers in-person, so it’s inviting everyone to a “virtual pancake breakfast” on Sunday to help support the club through the coronavirus outbreak.

Participants can post photos, videos or Facebook Live streams of their breakfast-making process to the neighborhood club’s Facebook page 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday.

The three winners of a pancake photo contest will get breakfast gift baskets from event sponsor Hyde Park Produce.

Optional “tickets” for the virtual event are still offered from $5 to $10, and ticket-holders will receive a pancake breakfast fridge magnet. There’s also a 50/50 raffle for $10 per ticket.

Ticket sales help the youth-focused nonprofit “at this time when all of our programming is canceled,” development director Sarah Diwan said. “Programming accounts for 50 percent of our revenue, which is pretty high for a nonprofit. We rely heavily on our programming to keep our doors open.”

Nearly all of the club’s programming has been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, though it’s still offering childcare for the elementary kids of University of Chicago Medicine workers.

The breakfast is “a fun way to connect with people by all engaging in same activity” when there are limited options for doing so, Diwan said.

“In the past, our pancake breakfasts have been limited to those nearby; who can drive or walk over to the club,” she said. “Now that it’s virtual, there’s no limit geographically. [Attendees] can invite family and friends around the country to join them making pancakes on Sunday morning.”

If this year’s virtual breakfast goes smoothly, Diwan said it could become an annual event alongside the in-person version, for those who can’t make it to Hyde Park.

The pancake breakfast has been held nearly every year since 1964, Diwan said. It was started by a group of moms who volunteered as after-school literacy coaches.

Urban renewal in Hyde Park forced them out of their longtime base, and by the early ’60s the volunteers were operating above a liquor store, according to Diwan.

They were allowed to use the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club on one condition: They help fundraise for the space.

The volunteers decided to do so with a pancake breakfast, going door-to-door for supplies like flour and eggs until Hyde Park institution Mr. G’s Finer Food’s offered to donate all needed supplies.

The defunct Hyde Park Co-op and now Hyde Park Produce followed Mr. G’s in donating supplies for the annual breakfast.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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