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Arlington Heights New-Car Dealer Teams with Suburban Charity to Help Feed the Poor

Arlington Heights Toyota dealer Gary Vicari was inspired by one of his employees' dedication to a Chicago area charity, so when a flier from the Chicago Automobile Trade Association crossed his desk with an offer to match donations of its dealer members, he jumped at the chance.

Vicari applied to the CATA to match his $1000 donation to Maot Chitim, an agency that furnishes meals for needy families during specific Jewish holidays.

"My employee always impressed me with the time he gave to this organization," said Vicari.  "We like to support organizations that are important to our employees and customers." 

That same spirit was the motivation for the Chicagoland Dealers Care program, with allows the association to support causes important to its dealer members.  "Our dealer members are the caring arms of this program," said Mike Ettleson an officer of the CATA.  "They tell us where our donations will do the most good."

Maot Chitim refers to the custom of gathering wheat to provide the poor with the makings of matzo for Passover.  Nearly a century ago, Rabbis set up card tables in front of their synagogues and distributed a few dollars to the poor for holy day meals.

Today, Maot Chitim of Greater Chicago has evolved into a year-round volunteer effort searching for the best and most reasonably priced Kosher products, organizing an army of volunteers, setting up a warehouse, locating recipients through social service agencies, packing the products, coordinating an orderly delivery system, delivering the packages and finally closing up and beginning the plans for the next holiday.

With only one paid staff member, Maot Chitim knows how to make that most of the donations that come its way.

"We rely heavily on the generosity of our donors and the selfless giving of time and effort by our volunteers, said Audrey Lane Schiff, the agency's executive director.

Maot Chitim volunteers represent city and suburbanites, all religious denominations and secular Jews, ages ranging from children to seniors.  Family, friends, clubs and school classes come together for hard work and a pleasurable experience.