MOUNT GREENWOOD — Who knew eating pancakes and dressing out of uniform could stop a bullet?
Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) will host a pancake breakfast benefiting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s “Get Behind the Vest” initiative from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at St. Christina School in Mount Greenwood.
Money raised from the event at 3333 W. 110th St. will go toward replacing an estimated 8,000 outdated bulletproof vests currently in use by the Chicago Police Department. Admission to the pancake breakfast is $5 per person or $25 per family.
“This is a cause that really strikes a chord in our community, as thousands of active police officers live in our area and protect the streets of our city," O'Shea said.
Howard Ludwig explains that officers must purchase their own vests:
The alderman's pancake breakfast comes on the heels of a pair of dress-down days at Brother Rice High School in Mount Greenwood. Students at the all-boys, Catholic school at 10001 S. Pulaski Road paid $2 to dress out of uniform on Jan. 28.
The effort raised $1,000 for Get Behind the Vest. The Southwest Side school also learned through the event that 110 students have a parent or other close family member working for the Chicago Police Department.
Alumni statistics later found approximately 220 Brother Rice graduates are working for the police department.
Thus, another dress-down day was planned for Feb. 11. This time, the effort brought in $1,358, which Brother Rice President Kevin Burns agreed to personally match.
In total, the school raised $5,800, enough to buy 14 bulletproof vests. The goal of the Get Behind the Vest initiative is to raise $4 million to replace the outdated vests.
According to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, the average life span of a bulletproof vest is 5-10 years, and officers are responsible for replacing their own vests at an average cost of about $500.
But the stipend is often quickly consumed by buying day-to-day necessities, and critics said the Police Department's uniform program is both uneconomical and unregulated, according to a report by the Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
None of that matters to residents of the 19th Ward who have friends and family whom rely on these vests. To further promote the effort and thank its organizers, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has been named honoree of the 2015 South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade begins at noon March 15.
Schoolchildren from the Mount Greenwood, Morgan Park and Beverly communities will also "Get Behind the Vest" with their own dress-down day on Friday. Participating schools include Christ the King, St. Barnabas, St. Cajetan, Sutherland, Cassell and Queen of Martyrs.
Saint Christina has already hosted a dress-down day for the bulletproof vest initiative, and Keller and St. John Fisher have promised a similar effort on a later date. Students at these schools will be allowed to shed their required uniforms for the day and dress in casual clothes in exchange for a small donation.
For more information on the upcoming pancake breakfast, call the alderman's office at 773-238-8766. Donations to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s Get Behind the Vest initiative can be made online at www.getbehindthevest.org.
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