The advertising community’s involvement in Off the Street Club dates back to 1902 when Frank Thomas, president of FCB’s predecessor agency Lord & Thomas, made the first donation to a struggling, West Side club for kids and persuaded his advertising colleagues to join him.
Founded in 1900, OTSC is the oldest inner city boys and girls club in the US. It gives safe haven to more than 3,000 kids, four to 18 years old, from gang violence that has turned Chicago neighborhoods, like OTSC’s West Garfield, into Chiraq.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, some 800 guests from Chicago’s advertising community will attend the 113th annual OTSC Holiday Luncheon, in the Swissotel to raise funds “to keep the lights on,” as OTSC’s indefatigable torchbearer Ralph Campagna, puts it. He grew up in the West Garfield neighborhood and has spent 50 years with OTSC, the last 30 as its executive director.
Last year’s luncheon, hosted by FCB Chicago, raised a record $570,000 and the luncheon committee’s hope is to exceed that amount this year. “The more the gun violence escalates on the streets, the greater our needs and support for those needs grow.”
Money raised through luncheon and raffle tickets – the $10,000 raffle prize donated anonymously – funds year-round learning and sports programs and play activities, operational expenses and summer sleep-away camp in Wheaton.
Campagna acknowledges that they could not provide all the Club’s many services to thousands of children year-after-year, without the whole-hearted commitment from their advertising community partners, many of whom have supported the club for generations.
“What’s amazing is our corps of a couple of hundred volunteers we can call on at any time. They are a blessing in every way,” he says.
Burnett host agency; 23 other companies making luncheon happen
Leo Burnett is the host agency for the 2015 Holiday Luncheon, joined by 23 other volunteer companies. Burnett’s own 50 volunteers include Rich Stoddart, the agency’s North American CEO, who’s been on the board for more than 10 years.
“Leo Burnett has been one of our biggest supporters for years and Rich is a man who never says ‘no’ to the kids. Barbara Murphy (SVP/account director) did a wonderful job coordinating the event,” Campagna says, calling her “a blessing.”
The luncheon’s poignant theme of “There are Two Chicagos,” was conceived by Burnett’s creative team of Vince Cook, Colin Selikow, Alan Shen, Chris Walker, Natalia Kowaleczko and Lauren Kleiman. Optimus donated the 5-minute video for the luncheon ceremonies.
The 2015 luncheon is a coordinated effort among Epsilon, OMD (Omnicom Media Group), Energy BBDO, Cramer-Krasselt, Weber Shandwick, Ogilvy, Digitas, FCB, KSM Media, DDB, Golin, Edelman, Talent Partners, Havas Worldwide, Google, Starcom, Mcgarrybown, Two by Four, Resources/Ammirati, Commonground, Razorfish, Y&R and Cutters.
At 323 E. Upper Wacker Drive, Zurich Ballroom, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Purchase tickets here.