We Care co-host Charlie Cropper said he had butterflies in his stomach before this year’s annual charity auction.

With volunteers still reeling from the absence of long-time volunteer Jan Buechler, known to many simply as “We Care Jan,” Cropper said he didn’t know what to expect this year.

“I was a nervous wreck,” Cropper said. “It’s like when you’re going to the big game.”

However, he and co-host Tammy Lively — another of the several volunteers who staffed the 48-hour telethon — each said they were pleasantly surprised by the community support that poured in this year, raising $340,300.55.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Lively said. “I’m just tickled to death that we did as well as we did.”

Several items regularly return to the auction block each year to raise money for We Care. Among these items are a We Care sign, which Cropper said sold for around $1,500 and a White Castle hamburger, or “slider,” donated and re-purchased by Kokomo Tribune Community News Editor Tom Carey.

The recurring item that brings arguably the most money each year, however, is the Hope doll. Rich and Sigrid Schwartz purchased Hope this year for $25,000. The couple presented the doll as a gift to Buechler, Lively said, a task they intended to do after they successfully purchased the doll last year.

“They gave Hope to Jan to take care of,” Lively said. “They tried to give it to her last year, but she wouldn’t take it. This year, they insisted.”

The most interesting item Lively said she witnessed this year was a small, hairless cat.

“It just goes to show you, you never know what we’re going to get,” she said.

Geetingsville residents Michelle and Tim Sunday said that is the best part of the We Care auction. This year, Michelle Sunday bought a 2005 Longaberger Silver Bells basket and said her husband purchased a stand-up cutout of Kurt Busch. Over the years, she said, they have purchased jewelry, property in a retirement community, a fur coat, and additional NASCAR and Longaberger collectibles.

Since they have moved from the Kokomo area the couple typically stay in a local hotel room to watch the televised auction, Sunday said.

“[Tim] has been involved with We Care since the beginning,” Sunday said, “and we donate as well.”

Denise Piel, Windfall, is not as frequent a buyer as Sunday, but said she enjoys tuning in to the annual auction on the radio.

“We don’t usually listen as much as we did this year. We stuck with it this year,” Piel said.

Piel’s purchase was a large glass pig coin bank filled with pennies, which as a hog farmer she found to be pretty special.

Amber Riggin may be reached at

(765) 854-6740 or via e-mail at

amber.riggin@kokomotribune.com

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