A simple idea to decorate wooden dolls for charity snowballed into something huge last year, when celebrities picked up markers, glitter and pens.
They decorated and signed dolls to be sold through eBay's Giving Works and raise money for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN, and Project Paper Doll was born. The result was more than $27,000 for the nonprofit hospital.
This year, it's back again, and auctions have already raised thousands. As of Monday, the sale of 16 one-of-a-kind figurines had taken in $5,222 for the hospital, which provides cancer, organ and bone marrow transplants and other services to patients. Project Paper Doll organizers don't have a goal in mind as to how much they hope to raise this year, but every little bit helps.
"It's humbling to see how many artists, who are so busy, took the time to do this," says Bryan Frasher, vice president of National Promotions for BNA Nashville and the project's co-founder. "It's unbelievable to see how much people wanted to be involved."
Frasher and his wife, Traci, founded the program in 2007 after volunteering at the children's hospital for years.
Dolls have been for sale since Nov. 28 in three groups. The last set of figures goes up for auction starting Dec. 10 and will include dolls decorated by Clint Black, Faith Hill, Jewel and Kid Rock.
"This is as much about building a partnership between the hospital and the music industry as it is about fundraising," says eBay Coordinator Amy P. Crownover. "This is something that is easy and it's fun to do. Some of the celebrities go to town on the dolls; some of them just sign them."
All together, celebrities have painted and dressed 60 dolls for this year's charity auction. Some figures have gone for several hundreds of dollars, including one made by country music artist Keith Urban. The doll, decked out in a striped shirt that reads "You Look Good in My Shirt" and holding a guitar had 47 bids. By the auction's end, Urban's creation brought in $600.
It's priceless to us to have this kind of support
A doll decorated by Kenny Chesney to reflect a beach vibe brought 30 bids and sold for $760.
"It's an incredible thing that people come together to do that for us," says Laurie Holloway, a spokeswoman for the hospital. "It's just priceless to us to have this kind of support."
Funds from the auctions will help better serve patients, she said.
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital is ranked 23rd in the country for pediatric health care, notes U.S. News & World Reports. The hospital does not refuse treatment to anyone based on ability to paya fact not widely known, and another reason why the center needs funds, according to Frasher.
Most of the hospital's patients are from Tennessee, but last year, its staff saw 20,000 patients from other states.
"PPD reminds us that tomorrow can be a better dayevery daywhen we all work together to combine inspiration, innovation and knowledge to make something happen," notes a release from the hospital.
Last year, the doll that brought in the highest revenue belonged to George Strait, with $2,030. Organizers won't know whose creation will garnish in the most money this year until the last auctions close Dec. 17, but they're looking forward to finding out.
"It's a wonderful thing to provide a place to go and be involved," Frasher says.
To check out the remaining dolls on auction for Project Paper Doll, visit shop.ebay.com/merchant/vch-benefit.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.