Online auctioneers host Kosovo benefit

eBay, Amazon and other sites cooperate on raising monery for victims.

Five online auction sites said Monday they will host a benefit auction for the American Red Cross' outreach to the Kosovo refugees., eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY), Auctions, Yahoo! Auctions, and Up4Sale will auction off specially donated items starting today, with all proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross , officials of the companies said.

The sites are also providing information on making donations directly to the Red Cross and other aid groups helping the displaced Kosovo citizens.

Items up for bidding include 35-millimeter cameras, Palm's Pilot digital organizers, Nintendo video games, watches and baseball cards.

Red Cross officials said emergency aid to those fleeing the war in the former Yugoslavia could cost $1 million per week for the next several months. The Red Cross has committed $1.5 million to a multi-agency effort to purchase food, sanitary supplies, tents, blankets and other materials needed for the nearly half-million refugees now entering Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, officials said.

"We applaud the efforts of these Internet companies to work together to help the American Red Cross reach the refugees who are suffering in this crisis," Steve Bullock, acting president of the American Red Cross, said in a statement. "These companies are providing a tremendous vehicle to bring people together and raise awareness and needed funds. It's thanks to donations like these that the Red Cross can be there for these families," Bullock said.

More giving encouraged
The sites are also encouraging sellers in their other online auctions to donate a portion of their April profits to the American Red Cross, Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO) officials said.

Online auction communities "are a natural place in which to seek assistance" for the Kosovo relief effort, said Yahoo! co-founder David Filo in a statement.

Online charity auctions are not new --'s (Nasdaq:AMZN) auction site, for example, has had a long partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. But this effort is among the first joint projects by major Web auctioneers to benefit a single cause, officials of the companies said.


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