By Jean Lotus
Shops of Oak Park's Southtown business district rallied this weekend around a local family whose son was killed by an alleged drunk driver July 13.
Employees of Avenue Alehouse, where 22-year-old Christopher R. Swordy worked as a busboy, hit the pavement around the business district to gather items from local merchants to donate to a fundraising raffle.
"We wanted to do something for Chris's family," said Arlene Michaud, manager at Avenue Alehouse. "All the servers and staff members put together donated money but then told themselves, 'we can do better than this.'"
She said restaurant servers asked local businesses for raffle items to honor the employee who had worked there for two-and-a-half years. Swordy and his family lived close by in the 800 block of South Clinton.
Local merchants were quick to pitch in. The raffle will be held Friday July 26, at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at Avenue Alehouse, 825 S. Oak Park Avenue. You need not be present to win.
Items to be raffled include gift certificates from neighborhood eateries Kinderhook Tap, Avenue Alehouse, Taste of Brasil and Margaritas, as well as Snip City hairdressers and Divine Consign furniture shop. Also raffled will be gift certificates to Potbelly sandwich shop and Qdoba.
"We want to give something to Chris's mother," Michaud said.
"The Southtown merchants always stick together and talk to each other," Michaud said. "This is such a tragic event, so everyone helped out how they could."