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Presidential Bids

St. Nick auction includes more than sports items

This is the 30th year for the Operation St. Nick Radio Auction and to celebrate there will be several unique items and a couple new twists on the auction.

The radio auction airs from 8 a.m. to noon this Sunday, Dec. 9, on WCSJ — 1550 AM and 103.1 FM. Operation St. Nick is a not-for-profit organization that works to help Grundy County families in need at Christmas, Easter and with back-to-school supplies. Last year, the auction raised more than $110,000.

“We have a record number of kids this year,” said Operation St. Nick President Joe Schmitz. “We have a lot of need this year.”

Operation St. Nick will be buying gifts for more than 70 families with more than 160 kids this Christmas.
For the first-time ever, the auction will have a theme. In celebration of its 30th year and it being a presidential year, there is a presidential theme, said Schmitz.

The presidential items available for purchase include autographed, framed photos of Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. In addition, there is a presidential campaign button collection from 1876 to 1972, the “Strong Families Make a Strong America” print by Thomas Kinkade, and a rare JFK Family collection containing books, plates, buttons and more.

“This is the first year for a theme and we think we might continue with a theme next year,” said Schmitz.
Another first is the auction will feature more non-sports items than sports items, said Schmitz. Through the years, Schmitz said, his wife and other female St. Nick volunteers have convinced him there is plenty of money to be raised through items other than sports memorabilia.

But there are still plenty of sports items as well.

“Our goal is to come up with items people won’t see at other auctions, at least with our level of items,” he said.

The Morris Cruise Night has again donated some one-of-a-kind items, including one that Schmitz describes as the “neatest thing they’ve ever had.” The 1938 Bennett 810 Visible Gas Pump has been completely restored by Cruise Night volunteers and has been customized as a “Mobil Special” pump that would be seen in 1938 at a Mobil station.

Schmitz expects it to bring in $10,000 or more for Operation St. Nick.

The Morris Cruise Night Committee also donated a customized 1960s AMF Pedal Car and a1960s Murphy Pedal Tractor and Wagon.

“(The Morris Cruise Night Committee) started with us last year and, wow, it’s been spectacular,” said Schmitz.

Instead of featuring a big-ticket item every hour, those items can now be bid on by calling in at any time. Some of the big ticket items include a Walter Payton autographed jersey that is framed, White Sox Scout seats for four with parking pass, and a Three Stooges autographed shadow box that is very rare, said Schmitz, since all three stooges signatures are included.

There are more than 200 items to bid on and values range from $100 to several thousands of dollars.

A list of all of the auction items can be found online at by clicking on the Operation St. Nick Auction advertisement.

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