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Gifts for star-struck friends

So your sister says all she wants for Christmas is Nick Carter in a big, red bow. Unfortunately for her, he's not for sale. But you can get a piece of him online -- and help a good cause at the same time.

Whether you want to get something tangible for your money or just make a donation in someone's name, why not follow in a favorite star's footsteps? Here's how some stars are helping and how you can do the same.

Buy a bit of fame
Ebay Charity Fundraising has several ongoing auctions benefiting charity -- many featuring celebrity items.

Recently on the auction block were framed handprints by Nick Carter, Hillary Duff, Andrew Firestone, Trista Sutter, Kwame Jackson, Venus Williams and Randy Jackson, who joined with other celebrities to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Many of the items auctioned in the past have intrinsic value -- other than being autographed by someone famous -- like Jon Bon Jovi's autographed Stratocaster guitar and LeAnn Rimes' personal velvet dress.

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Celebrity auction items move quickly on and off the block with new items added regularly. If you don't see anything from a particular celebrity or cause, keep checking.

Small gifts, big support
If you don't have the cash to back the hefty price of some celebrity auctions, make a buy at their favorite charity. Most offer more than just a coffee mug.

Jimmy Buffett's Save the Manatee Club offers manatee socks for $3.95. Paul Newman sells Newman's Own salsa, steak sauce, and salad dressing to benefit various charities, including affordable housing, elderly groups and hunger relief. Harrison Ford fans can buy coffee to benefit Conservation International -- where Ford is a vice chair. Lucille Ball memorabilia at Lucy Library benefits the Pediatric AIDS foundation. A favorite of Sigourney Weaver, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, sells hand-sewn wall hangings and other crafts made in Rwanda.

Star-created charities
Some celebrities, such as Paul Newman and Oprah Winfrey, go one step further when giving back to the less fortunate: They launch their very own charities to raise funds for causes dear to their hearts.

Rather than buy a piece of memorabilia for a friend, help them mimic their favorite star's actions by donating to the star's charities.

When Princess Diana walked through a land mine-infested field, the footage was broadcast worldwide, bringing public awareness to land mine victims and forcing governments to explain, if not change, their positions on land mine use. Since her death, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund continues to support those suffering from AIDS, leprosy and land mines.

Oprah Winfrey, one of America's favorite talk-show hosts, created Oprah's Angel Network to encourage her fans to reach out to those in need. One hundred percent of the donations go directly to the various charities she supports.

 

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See Also
Price of celebrity obsession
Stars and their cars
Big names, big debt
Financial advice glossary
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