Special to The Hays Daily News

SALINA -- The Kansas Prairie Celebration, the annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities of Salina, raised nearly $95,000 that will be used to assist people in need.

The celebration, which was July 31 in Salina, drew nearly 400 people.

Eric Frank, director of development for Catholic Charities, an agency of the Catholic Diocese of Salina, said the fundraiser attracted 432 new donors this year.

"I'm thrilled with the results from this year's event," Frank said. "A huge thank you to everyone that attended the Kansas Prairie Celebration and donated to help the children and families that depend on our assistance."

Altogether, Catholic Charities raised $83,827 in corporate and individual sponsorships; $6,505 in ticket sales; $7,125 from the live auction; $4,906 from the silent auction; $590 from a drawing for a cash prize; and $3,350 in donations that evening. Area media contributed $21,178.50 in advertising.

The event raised a total of $106,303. After $11,873.11 in expenses, a record $94,429,89 will be available to provide assistance to people in need, regardless of their faith beliefs. The first celebration in 2006 raised $28,000 after expenses.

"We think this is our best year ever for the Kansas Prairie Celebration," said Karen Hauser, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities. "It will help tremendously a number of people in our diocese as we work to reduce poverty in the rural areas."

The agency, founded in 1959, provides services in the 31 counties of north-central and northwest Kansas that make up the Diocese of Salina, from Manhattan and Hanover in the east to St. Francis and Goodland in the west. Catholic Charities has satellite offices in Concordia, Hays and Manhattan.

Catholic Charities offers counseling, emergency aid, adoption assistance and pregnancy services, legal immigration and Hispanic social services, youth programs, marriage and family education and senior housing.

"We want to thank everyone who attended, participated and sponsored this event," Hauser said.

"Now it's on to next year," Frank added, "and gathering everyone's feedback from the survey we mailed out and make it the best event for Catholic Charities to help more people in need."

To find out more about Catholic Charities or to donate online, go to www.catholiccharitiessalina.org.