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Katrina relief garners celebrity attention

In lieu of the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Katrina, the entertainment industry has initiated a series of charity events to help the families and victims of this natural disaster.

Given the popularity of Internet auction sites such as eBay, it is no surprise they are being used for this purpose. One Web site “provides technology-based solutions to nonprofit organizations.” It is running several celebrity auctions, including one to help the relief effort in the South.

Actor Morgan Freeman – a Mississippi native – is just one celebrity working with Charity Folks to help raise funds for the Red Cross. His backing and efforts caused famous pals to join the effort at Charity Folks.

There are over 200 items being auctioned, some of which include the opportunity to meet actress Dakota Fanning at the premier of her new movie Charlotte’s Web and a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas signed by Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro and the late Hunter S. Thompson.

The auctions do not stop there. Jay Leno will, for the third time, auction a signed Harley Davidson motorcycle on eBay later in September. Signatures adorning the bike include those of Jessica Alba, Donald Trump, Dennis Leary, Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon. Leno did the same to muster funds for victims of Sept. 11 and the tsunami that ravaged Southeast Asia, managing to pull in $360,000 and $810,000 respectively for each tragedy.

Kevin Smith of Clerks, Chasing Amy and Mallrats fame is also helping by way of the Internet auction. At his View Askew Web site, Smith is offering such goodies as a visit to the set of Clerks 2, the highly anticipated sequel to Smith’s seminal classic. Also being offered is a walk-on part in the same film. For the true Smith fan within, he’s offering the chance to bid on a barbeque at his home. All proceeds will be given to the Red Cross.

There have been at least three benefit concerts so far, and the efforts continue. According to the Red Cross Web site, the total amount of donations is estimated to be “$503 million in gifts and pledges” and they believe “$265 million” of that has been from Internet donations.

The usual round of benefit concerts that have and will take place feature the talents of artists such as The Rolling Stones, Mike Myers, Paul Simon, Chris Rock and Harry Connick Jr., to name a few.