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Alderman Don Wilson (4th Ward), Downtown Evanston Board of Directors, staff, and representatives from the Evanston Community Foundation and First Bank and Trust will announce the launch of the new Downtown Evanston Gift Card on Dec. 1.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Downtown Evanston will offer yet another gift option. The gift card is a prepaid card which can be redeemed against dining, shopping and services at over 110 participating downtown Evanston businesses. Look for the window decal with the Downtown Evanston logo and tagline “Gift Cards Accepted Here.”

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri said, “We are excited to introduce a gift card program that encourages keeping funds in the downtown. Our 2010 holiday campaign incorporates promotion of the gift card, and you’ll soon see our ads on Metra rail, the CTA, Pace Bus, as well as local print and online media.”

This program was researched last year through the Evanston Community Foundation Leadership Evanston class which consisted of six members of the community: Bridget Calendo, Carolyn Dellutri, Lise Jinno, Brian Miller, Kim Perutz and Cindy Reed. The project was geared towards keeping local dollars in Evanston.  As a result of the research, Ms. Dellutri and Downtown Evanston staff continued with the project through the launching of the program.

The gift card may be purchased Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at the Downtown Evanston office at 820 Davis St., suite 151; and Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Bank and Trust at 820 Church St. The card is available in denominations from $5 to $500.  Gift cards may be purchased with Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

The gift card operates on a closed loop system, which means it is valid only at participating downtown Evanston businesses. Purchasers of the gift card will also receive a “Passport to Downtown Evanston” featuring valuable offers from businesses that welcome the gift card.