MISSOULA — Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Missoula is a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to advocate for children in the foster care system who have experienced abuse and neglect.
This time each year, CASA of Missoula holds their largest fundraiser -- Light of Hope. Last year, CASA of Missoula had their best year yet, netting nearly $72,000 for their mission. However, this year, staff members didn’t know what to expect.
“We’ve had to shift all of our fundraising events online this year. We saw a significant drop in our Superhero run participation in October, although those who did participate were more generous,” said Emily Landsiedel, CASA of Missoula’s Development & Outreach Coordinator.
“We actually ended up raising more than last year. After that experience, we could see our Light of Hope Gala going either way. Still, we felt nervous it may not get close to past years’ funds,” Landsiedel continued.
To be safe, Executive Director Scott Appel budgeted only $59,000 net income for this year’s event.
Wanting to make the most of the virtual experience, CASA staff, their Board, and their videographer Brit Garner set to work.
They put together a livestream with hosts Jill Valley from KPAX News and Rick Sanders from The Mountain Morning Show, and filmed CASA volunteers and Judge Vannatta to demonstrate their impact.
They obtained 33 auction packages, from out-of-town trips to date nights and art, hosted a wine raffle, and sold Posh chocolates for instant purchase.
“We tried to lean into the Valentine’s Day theme. We knew people would purchase gifts for the holiday anyways, so why not give to a child in need while also giving to your significant other?” Landsiedel shared.
Finally, CASA staff and Board secured 25 sponsors for the event, most of which have supported the event for several years.
“We hosted a virtual cocktail hour for these sponsors where they could speak directly with our volunteers and staff. These are the people who usually attend our in-person event, so we wanted to give them the chance to connect individually with us in some way,” said Appel.
“In the end, Missoula really came out to show their support. We netted over $69,000 for our mission and came in only $2,500 short of our in-person event last year. We are overjoyed and so grateful to everyone who participated and donated,” Appel said.
CASA of Missoula will use funds raised to support their 160 current volunteers, recruit more volunteers, and advocate for the 300+ children in Missoula and Mineral County foster care each year.
Click here to learn more about CASA of Missoula or to become a volunteer.