eBay attempts to raise $100 million in 100 days for terror victims

The Internet auction site eBay Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., opened a charitable auction site to benefit victims of last week’s terror attacks, and challenged itself to raise $100 million in the 100 days.

The initiative, called “Auction for America,” was launched on Monday (September 17), says Janet Bannister, consumer goods category director for eBay. The site listed some 5,000 items (including computer equipment, dolls, and clothing) on Monday and is still growing.

Jewelry is making a strong showing on the site. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there were more than 1,000 jewelry and watch items listed on the site. Among the higher priced items are a diamond and sapphire ring from Tiffany’s going for $9,200 and a Patek Philippe ladies watch being offered at $4,000. “Over the next couple of days we will see more jewelry,” Bannister says.

There was no immediate indication on how much money had been raised so far, Bannister says. All proceeds from the auction will be forwarded to last week’s victims as eBay waived all of its fees. Visitors may also go to the site to donate cash.

Bannister says the eBay initiative, which is leveraging its 34 million site users, is reminiscent of the efforts of Americans during World War II.

“It’s a modern day version of the church bake sale which went on during World War II,” she says. “People can either donate an item or buy something to help the cause.”

New York Gov. George Pataki approached eBay to help raise funds, Bannister said. “We received approval on Friday and worked around the clock so we able to launch it on Monday,” Bannister says. “It was an amazing effort.”

The effort is gathering support from other online providers. For example, CollectorOnline, an online antiques, collectibles, craft, and fine art destination, has pledged its support of the eBay initiative. “As an eBay ‘Preferred Solution Provider,’ we are proud to announce our full support of this effort to our members. We are diligently working with eBay’s technical team to provide the capability for members to load up their items directly to this important charity auction,” the company said in a statement.