This is the fourth year that the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) cookouts have raised thousands for the U.S.O. So far, they have raised a $250,000. Saturday's goal was for another $150,000 and they were successful.
Westfield Ford in Countryside, Hennessy River View Ford in Oswego and Sunrise Chevrolet in Glendale Heights were just a few dealerships that hosted activities on Saturday.
"I couldn't be in this business today, standing in front of you if somebody wasn't protecting our interest here and overseas," said John Hennessy, dealer principal of Hennessy's River View Ford.
Donations, even small enough to fill a car cup holder, were given as people bellied up for barbecue.
Veterans said the U.S.O. is a good cause.
"Yeah, you know someone cares for you while you are out and about it is hard travelling with nothing," said retired Army Specialist Michael Myers.
Myers served two years in Iraq and is grateful for the support from auto dealers
"Made me feel good enough to put my uniform on for them you know," Myer said.
At Sunrise Chevrolet, the cookout coincided with their regular community car show that's been running for 13 years
"It gives us a chance to really combine ourselves with a charity and an organization that is willing to support our troops and veterans so it's great," said Daniel Kurtz, Sunrise executive manager.
The U.S.O. helps over 330,000 military members and their families with food and lodging assistance and transition programming.
"Everybody in the community has somebody that has served in the military and woven in that fabric of communities is car dealers -- so putting the two together makes a great team and it can help a lot of people," Hennessy said.
For more information, visit www.drivechicago.com.