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KIDRON -- An event that began 21 years ago to help a single family with his health issues and medical needs continues to grow through the generosity of the community, providing millions of dollars in medical assistance.
The Ohio Crippled Children's Fund Auction will be celebrating its 21st year this year on Saturday, July 1, at the Kidron Auction grounds. Coordinating auctioneer Bob Graber says some new events have been added on Friday night to extend the fun and generous giving.
An antique auction and some other activities will take place on Friday, but the main event kicks off at Saturday at 6:30 a.m. with a hearty breakfast served until 9 a.m. Then the auction of smaller items, crafts and collectibles begins at 9 a.m. in the Sprunger Building. Quilts, wallhangings and select furniture items will go on sale at 10.
"The Ohio Crippled Children's Fund Auction is one of the leading auctions for the number and quality of quilts offered at auction in one day," Graber said. "We get incredible support. And the quilts are beautiful.
"It's the nature of the community. If they can't give a quilt, or woodworking or food, they find another way they can help out. It's part of the community's willingness to give back," he added. "It's just the way people are in this area. It's grassroots and their heritage; they take care of their own and they take care of each other. And they have enough support to do all that."
The quilts are made locally by the women of the Kidron community, and the men provide the woodworking. Others wanted to help, which led to the donation of a 32-by-48 shop building.
"Other people that aren't quiltmakers or cabinetmakers wanted to help," Graber said. "This building idea came up a few years ago and has been very successful. There are masons, who are great block layers, who donate a day of laying block. Same thing with framers, roofers and siding guys. Several of these groups get together and donate their time and put this building together."
Even if people just come to eat, they will leave happy.
"There is homemade ice cream, homemade pretzels that are to die for, barbecue chicken with all the trimmings, a pig roast, you name it," Graber said.
The volunteers are a big part of the continued success of the Ohio Crippled Children's Fund Auction.
"We couldn't do this without the volunteer staff of auctioneers," Graber said. "They give us this day every year, and they work hard. It's an all-day thing. There'll be a couple thousand people here. We'll register 1,200 to 1,300 buyers. And the best thing is, the dollars that are donated, stay right here and help people here who are in need. And it's for kids who have some sort of medical need."
Graber said he got involved with the program because he works at the Kidron Auction every Thursday.
"They needed someone to spearhead the advertising and assist with the auctioneers. I'm just the contact person. These folks do all the work," he said, pointing to the list of 14 volunteer auctioneers that includes Steve Andrews, Seth Andrews, Steve Chupp, Nelson Weaver, Osrus Mast, David Miller, Joseph Miller, Wayne Miller, LeeRoy Miller, Lyn Neuenschwander, Atlee Raber, Eddie Yoder, Eli Troyer and Danny Troyer. "It has turned into quite an event.
"It's always held on the holiday weekend, and it's amazing these guys are willing to work with us," he continued. "It's never been a problem getting auctioneers. It's usually the same group. Many of them have been with us from the beginning."
He says some new auctioneers who have gotten into the business over the last five years have also come on board to help.
Graber says this event has grown out of one local man's health issues and the community coming together to help him out. For several years, they held an annual auction to generate funds for his assistance, but after he passed away, they had a lot of quilts and furniture made.
"The Ohio Crippled Children's board of directors formed to provide a resource for people who had a child with medical needs," he said. "They set the people up with a card they turn into the medical staff and the bills get sent to the board."
Paul Kline of Berlin is CEO of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Crippled Children's Fund. He praises the efforts of all the people involved with the auction.
"It's a great benefit for the children's fund," Kline said. "Each year we get a large donation from the sale and it helps us make payments in a timely manner for these large hospital bills we receive.
"We have very generous people involved," he added. "We are very fortunate to have such a caring community. We can't be thankful enough for what people are doing for us. Just the idea that people are willing to think of us and participate and give of their money, we really appreciate it."
Kline says the organization pays a few million dollars per year through the Ohio Crippled Children's Fund.