BEVERLY — Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) will pump gas Thursday afternoon to raise money for Chicago police officers in need of new bulletproof vests.
"Every time he volunteers to pump gas, our volume goes way up," said Raleigh Kean Jr., who owns the gas station that has operated in the neighborhood for more than 70 years and is one of the few remaining full-service gas stations.
Indeed, O'Shea has pumped gas at the station before to raise money for other worthy causes. This time, Kean will donate 5 cents per gallon to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation's "Get Behind the Vest" initiative.
The effort raises money for new bulletproof vests for police officers. These vests need to be replaced every 5-10 years, and police are responsible for replacing their own vests at an average cost of about $500 each, according to the foundation.
Beverly Bank and AthleteX Physical Therapy have agreed to match Kean's donation, increasing the fundraiser to 15 cents per gallon. And should the weather turn ugly, Kean expects demand for gas Thursday afternoon to increase exponentially.
"It helps when it is cold, because then [customers] can see [O'Shea] suffer," Kean said with a sly grin.
O'Shea is also hosting his third annual pancake breakfast to further fund the "Get Behind the Vest" initiative from 8 a.m.-noon Sunday at St. John Fisher Parish in West Beverly. The Original Pancake House in Beverly is donating all of the pancake batter, condiments and cooking supplies for the breakfast, further boosting the bottom line.
Meanwhile, the parish school at 10200 S. Washtenaw Ave. will also raise money by allowing students to dress in casual clothes rather than the required uniform for a day in exchange for a small donation.
Other neighborhood schools hosting similar "dress-down day" fundraisers include St. Cajetan, George F. Cassell Fine Arts School, Mount Greenwood Elementary, St. Barnabas, Brother Rice High School and more.
Meanwhile, St. Christina and Queen of Martyrs sold lollipops the week of Valentine's Day and donated the proceeds to the effort. All of these fundraisers over the past three years have generated $53,000 for the police charity.
"We appreciate the dangerous work of Chicago Police officers and want to protect those who protect us," O'Shea said. "Through the pancake breakfast and various school events, I hope to raise even more dollars than in years past."