By Ed Curran

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the eighth year in a row, Chicagoland new car dealers are raising money for the USO as they barbecue for the troops.

CBS 2’s Ed Curran reports this year’s fundraising has to be a lot different due to the pandemic.

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What started as a barbecue at a local new car dealer has become an annual celebration at dealerships across Illinois, raising money for the USO. The event this year won’t be the  same party, but the need is still there and new car dealers are just doing it in a different way.

Chicago Automobile Trade Association chairman Kevin Keefe said, this year, it’s a month-long effort that kicks off Saturday, Oct. 3.

“We’re gonna be doing it all month long.  We’re really cheerleading the donations all month long; whether it’s online, at the store, online at drivechicago.com, or at the dealerships’ websites that are participating,” Keefe said.

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All you have to do is stop into a participating new car dealer to make a donation anytime during October, or donate online.

Some dealers will even fire up the grills, on a smaller scale, as they carry on the tradition that’s raised over $900,000 to date for our local USO, supporting the service men and women of Illinois.

“There’ll be some barbecuing, and safely, with social distancing,” Keefe said.

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Find dealers participating in the 2020 USO BBQ at drivechicago.com.