EBay Auction Raises $15K for Homelessness Charity

Preliminary results have just been announced for eBay’s “eBay It Forward,” a charitable auction held by the gay-friendly company during the three days leading up to New Year’s Day.

And according to J.D. Norton, Director of Employee and Community events for the company, they’re “looking very good.”

“It looks like we’re probably going to finish at about $15,000,” he said.

“EBay It Forward” was held as part of the inaugural year of EVE, downtown Salt Lake City’s three day New Year’s Eve celebration. From Dec. 29–31 Utah residents were asked to bring items that had special meaning for them during 2009 to eBay’s pavilion along with a small story describing the item’s significance. The goods, which totaled some 200 items, were auctioned off in batches of 50 throughout January and placed on the auction Web site by a team of 30 eBay volunteers.

All proceeds will go to Family Promise – Salt Lake, a charitable group assisting families facing homelessness.

Norton said that the community donated a surprising variety of items, which included toys, jewelry, perfume, books and even used T-shirts. While some items sold for just .99 cents (eBay provided free shipping), he noted that not a single item went unclaimed.

“It was a range of absolutely everything,” he said. “And like we said before, it was the stories that [sold] the items.”

Norton said that eBay’s leadership was pleased at the results, and that he is putting together a proposal describing how the auction could be replicated in other cities. With the company’s 15 year anniversary coming up this summer, Norton said that some in the company wondered if “eBay It Forward” could return to “give back” to the community to honor the occasion.

Regardless of the event’s future in other cities, Norton added that he is hopeful that it will become part of Salt Lake City’s EVE.

“Right now the plan [for eBay] is to make this a tradition and hopefully something the Salt Lake community jumps on board and embraces,” he said.

EBay has received a rating of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, meaning that the company protects its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers through such things as nondiscrimination policies, nondiscrimination training, and health benefits for employees’ same-sex partners. It is one of 305 major U.S. businesses to receive this ranking in 2010. EBay’s Salt Lake City office employs 1,500 people.

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