Special to The Hays Daily News

SALINA -- A capacity crowd turned out for Catholic Charities' annual fundraiser Aug. 1, but the Kansas Prairie Celebration raised less money than the year before.

The event at Salina's Ramada Inn brought in total revenue of about $77,000. After expenses, the net proceeds will help fund the agency's operations for the coming year.

Of that total, about $62,000 was in the form of corporate sponsorships, which Dr. Karen Hauser, chief executive officer, said were down from the previous year because of a sluggish economy.

Tickets sales -- all 350 tickets were sold -- and proceeds from live and silent auctions accounted for the remaining $15,000 raised.

Still, Hauser said, she was "pretty happy" with the outcome, and compared with the first Kansas Prairie Celebration in 2006, the results show continued and growing support.

"We have a lot more corporate and individual sponsorships, so we're bringing in more there," she said.

Last year's celebration brought in $89,000 before expenses.

The event is the premier fundraiser for the social services agency of the Diocese of Salina, and it preceded the annual collection in parishes the weekend of Aug. 7 and 8.

Bishop Paul Coakley spoke at the event of the need to support Catholic Charities.

"It's important to recognize the work Catholic Charities does for the least of our brothers and sisters. We don't do what we do because the people are Catholic -- we serve anyone who comes through the door. We do what we do because we are Catholic," he said.

David Kreller, Catholic Charities' board president from Manhattan, thanked those in attendance for purchasing a ticket and supporting the agency's mission.

Afterward, he said the size of the crowd was inspiring.

"We were ecstatic at the level of turnout and support," he said.

Katie Platten, a Catholic Charities board member from Solomon, told the crowd that before she became involved she knew, like many Catholics, that Catholic Charities was a great organization but wasn't sure what it really did.

She outlined the agency's work, stressing that just 15 full-time staff members and about 80 volunteers provided services last year to more than 4,000 people in the 31-county region of the diocese.

"We are a very small organization in terms of administration; just 9 percent goes to administrative costs," she said. "So for every dollar you give, 91 cents goes to help people."

Platten, who serves as secretary of the board, highlighted the agency's work, from providing pregnancy services and adoption assistance to disaster response, legal immigration and Hispanic services, and counseling and family services. People in need are helped regardless of their faith beliefs.

"We take one family at a time and support the whole family and then make profound differences for this family," she said.

People still can support Catholic Charities of Salina by donating at catholicchari tiessalina.org.