In this second installment of how to host a charity shoot, Erin Callahan describes why she chose a particular charity to benefit and also, how to best run an event. Erin is the creator of the Merry Miracles Shoot, an event that benefits a children’s hospital in Colorado.
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Erin works as a Patient Family Service Specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the North Campus, near Denver. She also is enrolled at Colorado State University, Online, pursing a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. “My goal, once I finish school,” said Erin, “is to work as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Most people don’t know what a Child Life Specialist is, but it is a healthcare worker who helps children cope with hospital stays and procedures through play, emotional support and much more.”
Erin started the “Merry Miracles Shoot” five years ago. She’s always had a yearning to help children and knew what this particular medical facility could do to help youngsters and their families. She said, “I’ve always had a passion for helping children and one of my cousins has a rare disease and was in the hospital and when I was in middle school; one of my best friends had thyroid cancer, and she was at Children’s a lot, too.”
When asked why she wanted to start a charity event, she said, “I really picked shooting just because it’s been my whole life. I’ve been around the sport since I was little … since my dad did it. I don’t have any siblings and we don’t have a lot of family. The shooting community has been my family, so it seemed fitting to start there.”
Erin’s shooting background includes the world of sporting clays. “We go to Nationals every year and then we do State here. We’re going to Regionals and the US Open this year, too,” she said. Erin shoots a Syren Elos.
Erin said there is a large community in Colorado interested in participating in a charity event that revolves around shooting. The Merry Miracles Shoot in 2019 saw a record number of 213 participants. (Last year’s COVID problems caused a slight decline in numbers.) Erin said this benefit brings in competitors, hunters and people who just want to support the cause.
Held at Great Guns Sporting in Nunn, Colorado, the event is purposely scheduled for early December, and called “Merry Miracles Shoot.” Erin believes it is precisely because the event is held in the winter, and before Christmas, that it has seen such success. “My event is on the first Saturday of December every year. It may be a little cold out here in Colorado, but I think that helps us because it’s such a unique time of the year. There’s not a lot of shoots going on this time of year, and we incorporate a Christmas aspect. It’s also a toy drive. Last year SCHEELs donated a $500 gift card, so we used half for toys and half for door prizes, but other than that, the rest of the toys come from participants donating them the day of the event.” All the rest of the proceeds go to the hospital.
When asked how she promotes the event, she mentions that Facebook has been a good platform for getting the word out. She also prints flyers earlier in the year and takes them with her to other ranges and to shooting events. She believes these promotions procure more funding for the event. Additionally, she designs a separate flyer for sponsorship opportunities that she disperses in the community, as well as posts on social media.
Great Guns Sporting gives the event a great discount, and other ranges in the area pitch in and donate memberships.
Erin’s parents, a few friends and the local shooting community are involved in putting together the event.
Overall, the Merry Miracles Shoot has raised a little more than $88,000 for the Children’s Hospital. Three tiers of sponsorships ($300, $500 and $750), combined with door prizes raise funds fast. “In the past,” said Erin, “I’ve gotten guns, ammo, vests.”
As for feeding the masses, a local Italian restaurant, Papa Frank’s, gives a nice discount on its delicious homemade spaghetti, providing a hot meal on a cold day. A good friend donates desserts. Erin holds the main auction during lunchtime.
As for other volunteers, a local softball team offered to score the event last year, which worked well.
Here are a few other tips that Erin recommends for hosting a successful charity shooting event:
Visit Merry Miracles online.
Learn more about the fine line of Syren shotguns.