Charities annual fundraiser comes home to Kansas

From left, honorary Snow Ball presidents are: Pat Wilkerson, Rich Teahan and (far right) Don Foley. This year’s Snow Ball presidents are Jay and Lynn Reardon.

by Marc and Julie Anderson

OVERLAND PARK — It might be the largest annual fundraising event for the Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas. And it is certainly one of the metro areas most successful social events.

But organizers say the annual Snow Ball reception/dinner/dance is more than that. It’s about faith, community and the people Catholic Charities serves on a daily basis throughout the 21 counties of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“Snow Ball is a ministry,” said John Campbell. “At the end of the day, Snow Ball is a ministry.”

Campbell and his wife Mary serve as this year’s patron committee chairs. In that capacity, they help to raise approximately $2 million to aid Catholic Charities staff and network of volunteers in providing “unconditional love and necessary help to people of all faiths by stabilizing and strengthening individuals and families in need.”

And the couple invites anyone and everyone to join them in this ministry of outreach to the disadvantaged of the community.

This year’s Snow Ball will be held Jan. 21 and will include a reception, dinner and dancing from 6 p.m. to midnight. In recent years, the event has been held on the Missouri side of Kansas City.

But according to Kerry Gentry Hartnett, director of events and community engagement for Catholic Charities, this year’s Snow Ball will also be “a coming home party,” as the event will be held at the Overland Park Convention Center.

In actual practice, while the Snow Ball event is a fundraiser, the vast majority of the funds — approximately 75 percent — are raised in the form of patron gifts in the months, weeks and days leading up to the dinner/dance and range from $25 to $100,000 or more.

Sometimes people are hesitant to make a gift, the Campbells said, because they are afraid it won’t make a difference.

“Every donation matters and we can use it, period,” said John Campbell, adding that Catholic Charities staff and volunteers are excellent stewards of the dollars. He said he’s heard countless stories of how one dollar has been stretched or leveraged into almost $10.

The vast majority of gifts fall in the range of $25 to $100. However, according to Jay and Lynn Reardon, this year’s Snow Ball presidents, when you multiply $100 or even $25 by hundreds, if not thousands of people, the numbers add up quickly and can serve a multitude of people in need.

Some people might not be able to make a monetary gift. Both couples said there are still ways to get involved in the overall ministry of the Snow Ball and Catholic Charities. People can volunteer their time to assist refugees in their resettlement efforts. Seniors can serve as foster grandparents, and still others can visit homebound seniors.

“Their efforts and commitment are more important than what Jay and I are doing now,” said Lynn Reardon in discussing the role of Catholic Charities’ volunteers.

If someone’s busy schedule does not allow him or her the time to volunteer, said Mary Campbell, there’s still something extremely powerful he or she can do.

“Even if someone doesn’t have time or money, they have prayers. We’re very fortunate as Catholics, and we can pray and ask. God does many wonderful things for us,” she said.

For both the Campbells and the Reardons, Snow Ball is a celebration — one at which everyone can come together for a shared cause and celebrate the work done by committed volunteers every day.

“There’s happiness in giving,” said Mary Campbell. “We’re givers, and we’re trying to make the world a better place.”

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