Elk Grove cycling club gives back to help struggling restaurants
Usually, it's the nonprofit group asking for donations, not giving them out.
Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove did both as part of its Friends Helping Friends campaign to support 11 local businesses that regularly support the cycling group's events.
The bike advocacy organization raised $2,585 from 40 individual donors, and chipped in $2,500 more, to purchase gift cards at the businesses, many of them food and beverage establishments that have been closed entirely or open only for carryout during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And as a way to continue paying it forward, the bike group this week is handing out the roughly 300 gift cards to the workers on the front lines, including employees at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center, the Elk Grove Village fire and police departments and Jewel-Osco. Cards also will be given to the village and township food pantries.
The idea originated with club member Ron Skleney and was developed with brainstorming by member Scott Saxe and club president Dave Simmons. They were looking for a way to help the local businesses that have sponsored some of the club's bigger events, such as Bike with the Mayor, The Ride of Silence and Busse Woods Night Ride.
Saxe and his wife were already purchasing gift cards at local restaurants and asking Facebook friends to mention people who could use them. Out of that came the suggestion to expand it to a cycling club fundraising effort.
The local establishments include 7 Mile Cycles, All Ways Catering & Deli, Dairy Queen, Jarosch Bakery, Maple Leaf Coffee Roasters, Marino's Woodfire Pizza, Mikerphone Brewing, RoccoVino's, Tapalpa Mexican Restaurant, Vini's Pizza Elk Grove and Wine With Me.
"We know all of them are in dire straits right now because of the stay-at-home orders and economic impact," Saxe said. "While the $5,000 we've given out is not going to keep anyone afloat, it helps a little bit financially and it certainly helps from the community perspective. We really want to pay it forward."