Difficult times force Lansing Area Chamber to ask for help, but keep serving

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LANSING, Ill. (December 9, 2020) – As one of the largest and most active Chambers of Commerce in the region, the Lansing Area Chamber provides extensive opportunities for local businesses to network, learn, and grow. In Lansing, the Chamber also benefits local residents and the broader community through a variety of unique traditions.

Building community

1. Good Neighbor Day Parade
It is the Lansing Area Chamber that sponsors Lansing’s Good Neighbor Day Parade each year. As Carrie Steinweg reported in her 2018 article, local parades that celebrate Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are common, but only Lansing has a Good Neighbor Day Parade. It was started as a way to promote local businesses while celebrating community, and the tradition has continued since 1968—until this year’s pandemic forced a cancellation. Over the years the Good Neighbor Day Parade has grown to include businesses, schools, churches, Village departments, elected officials, Scout troops, and veterans—from Lansing as well as surrounding towns. Families begin setting up their lawn chairs at noon in order to reserve a viewing spot for the 2:00pm parade, and it’s not uncommon for former residents to return to Lansing for the parade day tradition. “It’s exciting when your hometown has something that you don’t find in other places,” Steinweg wrote. “That’s what Lansing’s Good Neighbor Day Parade is.”

2. LOOP Bike Ride
The Lansing Area Chamber also organizes the annual LOOP Bicycle Ride (Lansing Out On Pedals), which gives local families a unique opportunity to bike around Lansing. The ride includes a grand finale on the runway of the Lansing Municipal Airport. The LOOP brings bike-loving guests from neighboring towns as well and has offered a community experience of the Clock Tower, Fox Pointe, and various forest preserve paths. During this summer’s reprieve from COVID restrictions, the Chamber was able to keep LOOP on the calendar, with some modifications to the traditional event.

3. Family Giving Program
The Family Giving Program is an annual Chamber effort to provide Christmas gifts for Lansing families experiencing hard times. Normally funds are raised at Chamber events throughout the year, and in early December Chamber Director Amy Todd begins Christmas shopping for families who have been identified by social workers at schools in Districts 158 and 171. And Todd does the Christmas shopping at local businesses. This year though, the Chamber Board made the difficult decision to put the Family Giving Program on hold.

4. Pancake Breakfast with Santa
One of the main fundraisers for the Family Giving Program is the annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa. For a $5.00 ticket, attendees receive a plate full of pancakes—famously cooked by the Lansing Copper Muggers—sausage, and bacon, along with milk, juice, and/or coffee. The Copper Muggers donate the breakfast, so the ticket price can go directly to the Family Giving Program. In addition to helping dozens of kids and their families, the Pancake Breakfast is itself a community gathering—the tables in the TF South cafeteria are full of socializing families, and Santa sits in the corner visiting with kids who stop by to express their holiday wishes. COVID forced the cancellation of this year’s breakfast.

At the 2018 Breakfast with Santa, Chamber Board President Susan Thompson and Chamber Director Amy Todd welcomed guests to the TF South High School cafeteria. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 2018)

A difficult year

The Lansing Area Chamber is completely funded by membership dues, events, and sponsorships. Because of the pandemic’s impact on local businesses, the Chamber is currently down about 50 members and several sponsors. And because of restrictions on events for much of the year, that income source dried up as well. “We had to cancel so much this year,” said Todd, “and we lost so many members for reasons mostly due to COVID, that we are having a tough time here.” In fact, Chamber staff have struggled to keep their own doors open, as lost revenue has impacted salaries.

A way to help

As a way to keep the Lansing Area Chamber afloat, Director Amy Todd announced a 2021 Winter Raffle. Only 500 tickets will be sold, and Todd hopes Lansing residents will find the $25.00 price within reach. The drawing is scheduled for February 1, 2021, with the potential to win three large prizes:

  1. 1st Prize $2500.00
  2. 2nd Prize $1500.00
  3. 3rd Prize $1000.00

“This will help keep us afloat until we can get back to some normalcy,” said Todd.

Down but not out

“We have cut back our hours in the office for the time being,” said Todd in an email to members, “but you can always reach out to me through email or my cell number. I will keep you up-to-date with all the latest regulations and information from the state. I will keep advertising as much as I can for your businesses through Facebook and our newsletter. If there is anything that I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let us all try to stay positive and hope that things will turn around.”

Winter Raffle tickets can be purchased at:

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