2024 Annual Banquet scores a huge success

March 18, 2024

This year’s annual banquet was a huge success! Over 78 compassionate individuals attended the semi-formal gathering at the beautifully decorated CSPS Hall. They were treated to wonderful food by Tongue and Cheek, treats made by volunteers, classical guitar music by Maja Radovanlija, and fun games like a cake walk and wine toss. During dinner, CAA volunteers and staff shared inspiring stories about our work for animals and our community. Not to mention that the culmination of the annual auction happened during the banquet. And the best news is that all of this was not only fun but also raised a lot of money for CAA to accomplish our strategic goals this year!

Financial support that matters

Thanks to the amazing support of a generous anonymous donor, every donation made at the event was matched five times! This encouraged new donors to step up and existing supporters to increase their contributions. The cake walk and ring toss games raised a good amount of money too. The annual auction was a highlight, raising over $3,500 to support our work for a more compassionate world. With the gifts, the match, and the auction, we raised a total of over $30,000 to move our work forward! We are truly grateful to everyone who contributed.

Delightful delicacies: A feast for all

We were thrilled to have the popular local restaurant, Tongue in Cheek, prepare the main meal for the banquet. Known for their famous Vegasm meal, which changes seasonally, they didn’t disappoint with a unique vegan and gluten-free menu specially created for the event. The dinner featured cauliflower as the main attraction along with lots of veggies prepared to perfection.

The appetizers and desserts were also fantastic, thanks to our talented volunteers. Five people stepped up to make the plant-based appetizers which included such treats as: mini vegan pepperoni pizza breads, homemade vegan mini sausage on a stick, and yummy delicata squash. Desserts lovingly made by nine volunteers included vegan Babka, and strawberry-vanilla and dark chocolate cakes. These lovely creations adorned the center of each table – making the perfect tasty centerpieces. 

Games: Fun, excitement and funding

Volunteers also stepped up to make the deserts that served as prizes for the Cake Walk.  Contestants vied for such desserts as Tres Leches cake. It’s a game similar to musical chairs, and attendees could play for $5. The last person still standing won the dessert! Thanks to volunteer Elicia Bailey for running the cake walk.

The ring toss game was also a hit, as participants tested their skills by trying to toss a ring over bottles of wine. Each $10 contribution gave them three chances at the game. If they successfully got the ring on the bottle, they could take it home later. It was a fun-filled time with great rewards for the lucky ones. Thanks to Lexy Race for volunteering to host the ring toss game.

Captivating music: Setting the mood

We were fortunate to have Maja Radovanlija join us again this year to perform classical guitar music during dinner. Her beautiful melodies added a touch of elegance to the atmosphere. She even played the music for the cake walk, showcasing her talent and adding to the excitement of the event.

Generosity in action: An inspirational auction 

This year, we are grateful to have received donations from 26 individuals and businesses, totaling more than 50 items! We are pleased that the annual auction raised over $3,500 to support our work on behalf of animals! People took home cool items ranging from food to tours, handmade items, gift certificates, and more.

Of course we also had gift cards from a variety of local restaurants. These ever-popular items always inspire bidding wars! Gift cards to local restaurants included Francis Burger Joint, The Herbivorous Butcher, Craft and Crew Hospitality, J. Selby’s, Herbie Butcher’s Fried Chicken, Parkway Pizza, and Lutunji’s Palate. And our generous donors even bid higher than the value of the gift cards in their urge to support CAA. 

Other special items included tours and vacations like a one-night stay and tour at Soul Space Sanctuary, A personal tour for two at Farmaste Animal Sanctuary, a Magical Creatures Sanctuary tour in Hawaii, and a two-night stay at the Stanford Inn in California. The auction items also featured handcrafted items, massages, cakes, and artwork. 

Returning favorites included handmade oven mitts and bowl koozies by Handmade by Lisry, Florence Brammer’s famous red velvet cake, a wine and treats gift basket, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake certificate, Yip Fitness unlimited month certificates, and soy candles from Roseline’s Candles. Additionally, we had exciting new items such as tee-shirts from Visibly Veg, nail polish from 786 Cosmetics, and an extra-large drum from Pattern Percussion, and so much more!

Thanks to the generosity of donors and bidders for a successful auction. By participating, winners not only acquired wonderful items, but also contributed to our mission of making a difference for animals. 

Inspiring perspectives: Motivating talks from our speakers

During the banquet, our Executive Director, Laura Matanah, shared an overview of the work we have been doing over the past year on behalf of the animals, as well as a preview of current efforts and our goals for the coming year. Nicola Philpott then talked about her volunteer work on climate action and how it relates to her volunteer work with CAA. She has been involved with organizing the meals at Simpson Housing as well as the new West Suburbs Vegan Potlucks and the upcoming showing of the award-winning film, The Smell of Money. Then, board member and Treasurer, Hannah Milos spoke about her plant-based journey and why she has gotten so involved with CAA.

These inspiring talks helped us to see the importance of the work that is going on and how our financial and volunteer support makes it all possible.

The power of teamwork: Volunteers were the heart of the event

The success of the banquet wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our thirty-three volunteers who helped with the event. In addition to the volunteers listed above who brought food and organized the games, volunteers helped with check-ins, set up, clean up, and game ticket sales. We are so thankful for their time and help!

We are also grateful to the wonderful committee who organized the event: Lydia Green (board member), Hannah Milos (board member), Kelso Anderson, Allison Gamble, Grace Prins, and Jared Rolsky. They worked diligently to ensure the smooth running of the banquet and auction so that attendees could sit back, enjoy, and contribute to our work on behalf of the animals.

A memorable night celebrating CAA

The annual banquet was a memorable occasion filled with delicious food, inspiring stories, and a strong sense of community. The financial support we received will help us continue our crucial work. 

We extend our sincere thanks to everyone who attended, donated, volunteered, and made the event a success. Together, we are making a positive impact on the lives of animals and creating a more compassionate world.

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