The “Get Behind the Vest” pancake breakfast hosted by 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea has become a yearly tradition that warms up people during seemingly endless winters.

This year’s breakfast is set for Sunday, Feb. 23, from 8 a.m to noon, at St. John Fisher Elementary School (SJF), 10200 S. Washtenaw Ave. Proceeds go to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (CPMF) campaign to purchase new protective vests for members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).

Admission is $5 per person or $25 per family.

The CPMF started the Get Behind the Vest campaign in late 2014. Police officers receive their first vests for free; but they need to be replaced every five years, and officers need to foot the bill, which can be around $500. That cost can rise another $150 when purchasing a vest cover.

Over the past six years, the CPMF has replaced more than 9,000 vests, and currently, there are 4,200 that are eligible to be replaced.

Get Behind the Vest organizers said that many officers put buying a new vest behind other life priorities, such as their children’s needs. However, officials said the process to get a new vest is “quick” and “painless,” as officers can request a new vest through the CPD, then attend a fitting session hosted by the CPMF. They return shortly thereafter to receive the vests.

Hundreds of new vests were distributed at the 22nd District station in late January, and fittings for additional vests will be held Feb. 17-21 in the 17th (Albany Park) and 9th (Deering) districts.

New vests have already saved officers, organizers said, and an officer at the 22nd District distribution expressed gratitude for the campaign.

The pancake breakfast is a delicious way to support the campaign. Organizers said last year’s breakfast was the largest to date, with over 2,000 people in attendance, and it raised nearly $34,000 in conjunction with school fundraisers and local business support.

The Original Pancake House-Beverly, owned by the Harrigan Family for 55 years, provides all the pancake batter, condiments and cooking supplies. Several other local businesses also sponsor the event.

When people donate to Get Behind the Vest, all they have to do is see well-protected CPD officers to know their money is going to good use.

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