Agencies unite to raise $500K for inner city club

Agency organizers of the Off the Street Club’s Holiday Luncheon Dec. 4 at the Swissotel anticipate raising $500,000 to sustain OSTC for the year ahead. With 19 agencies currently behind it, 1,000 guests, revenue from $10,000 prize raffle, a silent auction and donations – they’re confident of reaching their goal. 

FCB Chicago is the designated lead agency and VP/management director Liz Drouin is at the helm of the agency consortium organizing the annual affair supported by the advertising industry for 112 of its 114 years. 

FCB Chicago’s involvement with OFTC is like a grandson carrying on the family’s heritage. It began in 1902 when Frank Thomas of Lord & Thomas, predecessor of FCB, first got on board to help what is now the oldest after school, inner city club.

FCB, FCB-X, DDB, OMD, Arc, Digitas, , Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, Cramer-Krasselt, Weber Shandwick, McGarryBowen, CommonGround, Havas Worldwide, Edelman, Omnicom, Energy BBDO,Two by Four, and Burrell Communications have been working on the luncheon for several months.

Each agency has formed internal teams of up to 15 members to serve on committees to plan and produce the annual event, notes Drouin.

“More agencies are steadily signing up to help out,” adds Ebonne Just, group manager of Weber Shandwick Public Relations. “They all have wrapped their hearts and arms around this very worthwhile cause.”

OTSC's Ralph Campagna, executive diretor, Arnette Morris, associate direcotrThe Holiday Luncheon is OTSC’s biggest fundraiser of the year, “and we count on it to keep our doors open,” says Ralph Campagna, OTSC’s indefatigable executive director since 1981, who grew up in the club. “I’m inspired by their dedication to make the luncheon a success in every way.”

New this year is The Hope Awards to honor the club’s achievements and “the dedicated OTSC supporters who not only make contributions but tirelessly volunteer,” notes Just.

They are currently being nominated online and an agency committee will select the winners.

OTSC members disavow gangs, drugs, violence

Located in West Garfield Park, OTSC annually serves 3,000 boys and girls, four-to-18 years old from the toughest and most violent neighborhoods, to explore their interests and experience what Campagna likes to call “casual joy.”

Club members pledge they will not engage in gang, drugs or violence, nor associate with those who do. Luncheon-raised funds fund programs, athletics, day-to-day operations and the maintenance of summer sleep-away Camp Mathieu in Wheaton.

Last summer Weber Shandwick began supporting the club for first time by preparing the buildings and grounds for its eager summertime campers, says Just. “We rolled up our sleeves and pitched in. washing windows, making repairs and cutting the grass.”

The agency will hold internal fundraisers, too, Just says, by rolling out a beer cart during a Friday evening Happy Hour and accepting OTSC donations.

Swissotel Chicago is at 323 E. Upper Wacker Drive; luncheon,  11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Tickets, starting at $350, may be purchased here.

Freelance writer Amber Robbin is the creator of Tumbleweed Diaries and writes for Audio Femme a Brooklyn-based indie music site. Contact her at