by Jill Ragar Esfeld
It is the premier fundraising gala in Kansas City.
The Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas Snow Ball was held Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Overland Park Convention Center.
But behind the glitz and glamour of the annual event is the beating heart of charity throughout our archdiocese.
Snow Ball raises half of all private donations needed to fund more than 20 programs across a 21-county service area.
First held in 1974, the gala had humble beginnings as a potluck dinner hosted at the former Glenwood Manor Hotel in Overland Park.
Patrons raised $11,394.
The combination of good friends, good food and a good cause made it an annual event that was initially called the Saint Martin of Tours Gala.
But because snow seemed to fall every year in conjunction with the gala, the name was changed to Snow Ball, and it continued to grow in popularity
This year, the 46th Annual Snow Ball raised more than three million dollars.
President and CEO Lauren Solidum started off the evening welcoming guests and calling the event “a celebration of love and the power of Jesus Christ.”
She emphasized that the services provided by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas are a hand up and not a hand out.
“We make God’s love truly tangible,” she said.
Solidum welcomed this year’s Snow Ball presidents Mike and Jo Kuckelman, parishioners at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park
Speaking for the couple, Mike Kuckelman said they love Catholic Charities because it “provides services from conception to natural death.”
“We agreed to serve as Snow Ball presidents because last year 575,394 crisis moments in someone’s life Catholic Charities stepped in and solved,” he continued. “And ninety-one cents of every dollar goes directly to Catholic Charities programs.
“Catholic Charities provides a structure so we can step in and answer a need.”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann returned from his “ad limina” trip to Rome to give the evening’s invocation.
He brought greetings from Pope Francis saying, “[Catholic Charities is] helping those on the peripheries. This is an event the Holy Father would love.”
Proving the archbishop’s point, guests throughout the evening shared stories about their own involvement with the programs of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.
In the past year alone, the organization provided more than half a million services to those in need, with the help of 1,700 volunteers each month.
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas makes it possible for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus throughout our archdiocese, serving the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities — from all faiths and cultures.
Save the date for the 47th Annual Snow Ball, to be held Jan. 16, 2021, at the Overland Park Convention Center.
Find out more about the programs and volunteer opportunities with Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas or help with a donation here.