ANDERSON — Tables of volunteers waiting anxiously to answer their phones lined the left side of the Reardon Auditorium stage on Friday evening as the first part of the 20th annual Bids for Kids TV auction got under way.

Produced by The Exchange Clubs of Madison County and supported by dozens of community sponsors, the auction was an opportunity for hundreds of Madison County residents to work together to stop child abuse.

“We had hundreds of local sponsors that donated 1,495 items to be auctioned off this weekend,” said Nina Sheets, solicitation chairwoman for Bids for Kids. “It’s going to be a busy weekend.”

And there seemed to be something up for bid that would suit just about everyone. Donated items ranged from furniture and pianos to Nintendo Wiis and the popular video game “Guitar Hero.”

“We’ve even got preseason Colts tickets up for auction,” said Sheets. “There’s something for everyone.”

The items up for bid were presented to the auction’s viewing audience in lots of approximately 10 items each, and as the auctioneers talked about each item, viewers had several minutes to call and get their bids in on time. Residents were also welcome to come to Reardon Auditorium to place their bids live, said Sheets.

“We have runners here in the auditorium that will come and pick up bids from audience members,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun for people to witness the bids on the items that they want.”

According to Sheets, Bids for Kids is staged with the help of approximately 80 volunteers, 28 of which were present at the auction on Friday evening. Additionally, Anderson Mayor Kris Ockomon offered his services as a Bids for Kids auctioneer.

“I’ve worked the phone banks in the past,” said Ockomon, while talking to the auction’s emcee. “But this is my first time in front of the bright lights.”

For many volunteers, the auction’s cause is a large part of the reason they choose to help out. “Stopping child abuse is just something I’m passionate about,” said Sheets, who is in her sixth year of helping with Bids for Kids. “I think it’s important to help raise money to stop it.”

Local resident Dustin Caulk, who had been watching and participating in the auction for 14 years, said he also felt strongly about stopping child abuse.

“It means a lot to me,” Caulk said. “The auction is a way for me to help out and have fun at the same time.”

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