TRENTON — A fundraiser started last week in memory of the late Michele Croan for the benefit of the SPCA of Hancock County has surpassed $11,000.
Kristen Cameron started the fundraiser on Facebook to honor the passion and dedication Croan had for the organization during her life.
Croan, a resident of Seal Harbor, died on Aug. 20 at age 60, after a battle with cancer. She had been a volunteer at the SPCA for over a decade, served as a member of the board and organized the annual Wine and Whiskers fundraiser. Croan’s dedication to the SPCA inspired Cameron to raise money for the organization in her memory.
“We both grew up here,” said Cameron. “I’ve just known her for years, she’s just a really sweet woman.”
Cameron started the fundraiser as a kind gesture after seeing other friends of Croan share their support and kindness on Facebook. What started out as something simple has since grown into a huge show of support from the community.
“My goal was only $500,” said Cameron, “but it just snowballed, everybody just started sharing it.”
As of Tuesday, Aug. 30, Cameron had raised $11,885 for the SPCA, and there were still seven days remaining.
“It really makes you grateful to be part of a small community where everybody knows each other,” said Cameron. “It’s so heartwarming.”
Cameron said that she cannot take credit for the support shown for Croan or the amount raised for the SPCA.
“It’s really everybody that donated and how they felt about Michele,” said Cameron. “I tried to thank everybody that has donated.”
Charlie Croan, Michele Croan’s husband, also offered words of gratitude to those who have helped honor his late wife’s memory and legacy with their donations and support.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all who donated,” said Charlie Croan. “I know she would be so humbled and happy at the same time.”
Jamie O’Keefe, another longtime volunteer and board member at the SPCA, spoke about the impact that Michele Croan had on the organization.
“Michele was one of the kindest and nicest people,” said O’Keefe. “She worked behind the scenes and never wanted accolades for what she did.”
Croan’s involvement in the Wine and Whiskers fundraiser was incredibly important to the organization for many years. The fundraiser includes a dinner event and an auction, and Croan was always there to organize and plan the event, particularly the auction.
“Michele was the queen of securing various auction items for the events from businesses and people she knew,” said O’Keefe. “She was never afraid to ask anyone to give an auction item because she really believed in the SPCA and our mission.”
Of the fundraiser in Croan’s memory, O’Keefe said, “The response that it’s gotten, it doesn’t surprise me, only because of the person that Michele was. It does make you smile and make you feel better that you know we’re not alone.”
In addition to the fundraiser, there has been talk at the SPCA about honoring Croan’s memory in a more permanent way at the shelter. The specifics have not been decided upon yet, but there will be something in the works soon.
“We’re in discussion to do something,” said O’Keefe.
SPCA Development Officer Samantha Thorsen spoke about how these donations will help the organization.
“This is a very large donation,” said Thorsen. “We don’t receive any funding from any source other than just charitable donations.”
The SPCA has many expenses for animal care and services including medical care, food for the pets, veterinary costs and toys. At the moment, the SPCA has an influx of cats with kittens that need care. The shelter also has some dogs with medical conditions such as heartworm that require medication.
“This is very incredible and very needed,” said Thorsen. “This means a lot to us and to be associated with Michele’s memory is very heartwarming to us.”
For Thorsen, the initiative taken by the community to continue to help the animals just as Croan did during her time with the SPCA is meaningful.
“It’s just completely the community initiating this,” Thorsen said. “Her memory and her work is clearly never going to be forgotten.”