Care Train gears up for its 30th year

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Tom Burkhart, of Marysville, keeps himself busy in his days of retirement by collecting donations for various charity organizations. This time around, he’s focusing his efforts on Care Train, a charity event that supports families in the county during the holidays. He usually camps out in the lobby of McAuliffe’s ACE Hardware three to four days a week, surrounded by toys and willing to accept more as donations.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Jacob Runnels)
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The Care Train of Union County is right around the corner for its 30th year serving the community.
Dave Laslow, founder and chairman of Care Train, said the charity effort is a “group of concerned citizens and business leaders” who contribute an effort to make sure everyone can enjoy the holiday season. He said this is done through charitable contributions, fundraising, auctions and food donations.
“Our mission is to take care of those less fortunate,” Laslow said. “We take as many needy families here in Union County as we can. We provide food (vouchers) and toys to those in need.”
This year, the Care Train will be rolling out a new addition to its live auction: the ability to bid online during the bid-board portion of the auction.
The live auction is broadcast on television and bidding is done by phone during the show or making a bid in person. Auction items are donated from members of the community, and has included cars in the past.
Now, there will be separate bidding boards online so people can participate through the internet.
“All of the information you need will be (online),” Laslow said. “It’s exciting for us because we’ve never done that before.”
He said his future plans for Care Train are to reach more people throughout the world.
“The social media aspect and the technology aspect of this whole thing is going to grow,” he said. “However, we do not want to lose sight, ever, of how we got to where we’re at, plus the involvement we have with this community. That’s what makes this thing so special.”
Dan Fitzgerald, Care Train vice president, said this is the kind of charitable event that really gets the community involved. He said everyone wants to see an event like this be successful, and spans to many members of the community.
“It’s unusual to have an event in a community where everyone wants it to succeed,” Fitzgerald said. “Everybody wants it to succeed, and we feel it. We’re working hard and you can just feel it from the people.”
Care Train’s scope of assistance ranges from helping needy families, to elderly and disabled residents.
Laslow and Fitzgerald said the charitable nature of the event is geared toward everyone. Though many sign up, not everyone who needs the help actually gets onboard the Care Train.
That’s where Marysville resident Tom Burkhart comes in. As a fixture in the community, he’s been donating his time and energy to various charity drives in the county since he retired in 2004.
Burkhart is 80 years old, but he treats fundraising like it’s his job.
For Care Train, he said he often sets up his stand in the lobby of McAuliffe’s ACE Hardware store three to four days a week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Armed with a canteen of coffee and a water pitcher converted to collecting donations, he surrounds himself with the many donations brought to him, usually toys, and asks the people to contribute to Care Train.
“I’ve been a fortunate person to not have any financial problems,” he said. “Since I retired, I started volunteering, and it helps keep my busy.”
Though he’s able to talk his way into getting a donation from someone walking by, he said it’s a challenge for him to convince the elderly to sign up to receive donations through Care Train.
“The old people here are rather proud and would find it embarrassing to get help,” he said. “We try not to embarrass, and we’re here to help.”
As of Nov. 15, 280 families, 607 children, 370 senior families and 87 disabled adults have signed up for the Care Train’s aid this year. Last year, Care Train gave $156,000 in food vouchers, helping 292 families, 450 children, 378 senior families and 78 disabled residents.
Care Train holds its auction on Dec. 9 this year. The online bid boards will be live from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the live auction will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a silent auction will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McAuliffe’s ACE Hardware. Afterward, there will be a benefit concert held at the Marysville High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
To access the bid boards, visit www.caretrain.org.



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