Annual HALO fundraiser attracts hundreds

Growth and change are underway at HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) sites around the world.

Construction of a Kansas City Campus has begun and the nonprofit's sites in Jefferson City have been renovated.

HALO's 15th annual art auction returned to the Capital City on Thursday night at Capital Bluffs Event Center to get a jump-start on fundraising for 2023.

Chief Operating Officer Nicole Gerken said she was thrilled to return to an in-person event following recent online-only fundraisers.

"Things have just really exploded within the (Jefferson City) community. We've really grown since 2015," Gerken said. "People have just started to become even more aware of us. When we launched the girls home -- and now with the boys program -- everything is really expanding in the Jefferson City community."

The art auction isn't possible without all the volunteers that step up in Jefferson City, she said. More than 300 people arrived during the rainy evening.

"We're just ready to be back in person. It gives us a chance to highlight everything we do in Jefferson City," Gerken said.

Kayla Keller, the HALO Jefferson City operations manager, added, "We have some really incredible kids. That's something we're so proud of. We have to protect their privacy and their safety sometimes, but we're always so glad to be a part of their stories."

Keller said grants have allowed HALO to transform the girls home.

"It's so much cuter," she said.

Gerken added the boys house has also had recent improvements.

But Thursday night was about raising money for programs at HALO.

The goal was to raise $200,000 during the evening through a live auction, silent auction, raffle and lottery.

"We're hopeful that we reach that," Gerken said.

Live auction items included a Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs autographed jersey, Bar C Meat & Wine Package, a Kansas City getaway, two pieces by artist Carly Rae Robinson, a Travis Kelce Chiefs autographed helmet and several other items.

The silent auction featured about 100 items, including an oil painting of Mahomes, a Super Bowl photo assortment, a weekend in New York, an autographed Isaiah Pacheco Chiefs' Super Bowl helmet, an autographed University of Missouri Nick Bolton jersey, and much more.

Ginny and Keith Sampson of Jefferson City said they never miss the auction.

"I have my bid in on a couple of items," Ginny Sampson said, without revealing what she had her heart set on. "I think every time we end up with a piece of artwork of some sort."

All the art they've collected have gone to their home, the Sampsons said.

Keith Sampson said they treasure the pieces done by HALO clients, although he tends to lean toward the sports memorabilia that is available at the auction.

Is he a Chiefs fan?

"I've lived through the bad," he said, "and now I'm relishing the present."

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