The list of items donated for Saturday's annual auction for the Care Train of Union County runs the gamut from gems to generators, but the intent is universal: to help local families in need.
As of Dec. 5, Care Train Executive Director Linda Fisher said 340 seniors and 288 families, including 450 children, had applied for help. Fisher said they are running behind last year in the number of applications filed, but she expects more to come in by the Dec. 11 deadline.
The Care Train, now in its 27th year in Union County, started in 1987 when Dave Laslow put a box in a corner of his Burger King restaurant to collect toys for children in need.
The project has grown every year since -- and the help it provides isn't limited to children.
Fisher said the number of senior residents needing help is rising each year.
"With medical cost increases and incomes either stable or, in some cases, decreasing, we have seen a definite uptick in our senior applicants," she said.
The annual Care Train auction will be televised live from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14 on Time Warner Cable channel 9 at McAuliffe's Ace Hardware, 1299 W. Fifth St., Marysville. The goal is to surpass the amount of money raised in 2012, which amounted to a little more than $152,000, Fisher said.
The Care Train collects toys for children and items for the auction, an event Fisher described as a "man's auction" this year.
"We have a 10-kilowatt generator. Five businesses go together to make that possible for us every year," she said. "There are three heavy-duty tool box storage systems ... Men are going to be really happy, because there will be lots of opportunities to get power tools."
Other items up for auction include art pieces by local artists, a 14-karat yellow gold floating diamond necklace, and lots of OSU basketball and ice hockey tickets.
Those interested can bid on a 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan, concert packets for George Strait VIP tickets, or Cher tickets. There also are a softball and bat signed by members of the Wounded Warriors Softball Team, which visited Marysville in September.
"We're in the home stretch for the auction," said Fisher.
Care Train workers are taking inventory of all the donated items and deciding which ones to package together for the auction.
The auction is not the only fundraiser scheduled Dec. 14 to benefit the Care Train. The Marysville High School symphonic choir will perform in the Cardinal Health Benefit Concert at 7:30 p.m. in the school's auditorium. There is no charge to attend the concert, but a freewill offering will be accepted and those who attend can donate to the Care Train.
Cardinal Health matches those donations up to $5,000.
Once the auction and concert are over, Fisher said, the fun starts.
"We get to count that money and look at how many applicants we have and buy those grocery vouchers and those gifts," she said. All the money collected goes straight to Kroger for food vouchers to give to families.
Distribution Day for the toys and vouchers falls on Dec. 22. Applicants can pick up their vouchers and toys at the Dutch Mill Greenhouse, 18443 state Route 4. The warehouse typically fills up with rows and rows of gifts and volunteers helping people find what they need, Fisher said.
"Distribution Day is icing on the cake," she said. "When the families come in and we see their eyes pop -- that day makes everything else worthwhile."