Nonprofit garners support with NYC iPhone vigil

A Brooklyn, New York-based charity is using its position as first in line for the iPhone at the SoHo Apple Store to drum up more support for its plans to auction the gadget on eBay and use the money for charitable purposes.

In addition to its iPhone plan, Keep a Child Alive, which supplies anti-retroviral medication and treatment for children with AIDS in Africa, has gotten corporate sponsors to donate other items for eBay auctions.

What got the ball rolling was a decision by Johnny Vulkan, member of the group’s public relations team, to begin standing in line for the iPhone at 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday, said Sarah Stabile from Anomaly, the public relations company that does pro bono work for Keep a Child Alive. Vulkan also works for Anomaly.

Since then the campaign has taken a life of its own, she said. During an interview outside the store Thursday, Stabile got an e-mail informing her that ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live television show has offered the charity four tickets to the show and access for four to its green room to auction off on eBay.

“Every five minutes more and more people” are pledging support, she said, standing in the brutal summer heat.

Other corporate sponsors of Keep a Child Alive’s iPhone campaign are Virgin Atlantic Airways, which is giving the nonprofit airline tickets to auction off; Aliph, which has donated Jawbone Bluetooth headsets that work with iPhone; and the Rachael Ray daytime television talk show, which also has donated tickets. Six Flags Theme Parks amusement parks and Netflix also are donating items to be auctioned on eBay for Keep a Child Alive.

eBay also has said it will match the iPhone’s auction price and donate the amount to the charity, Stabile said.

Apple, however, has not yet pledged any kind of charitable support for the group’s campaign, though she believes the company will eventually donate something for the cause.

When contacted by Keep a Child Alive, “they said ‘we love what you’re doing,’ but not much more,” Stabile said. She added that because of all the media attention the iPhone is getting, it’s not surprising Apple would choose to stay out of the campaign for now. “They’ll probably do something quietly later,” she said.

Mia Riddle, a Keep a Child Alive staff member, is one of 80 volunteers who is keeping the group’s place in line. Sitting on a chair on the hot sidewalk Thursday, she said the staff of the Apple Store has been more than hospitable to the people braving the heat to stand in line, “bringing us water and letting us use the bathroom.”

Riddle said the nonprofit uses Apple computers at its office, but an interest in the company’s technology is not the reason for the iPhone campaign.

“It’s more about using the media frenzy around the iPhone to communicate things that are a little more important,” she said.

Keep a Child Alive’s eBay auction is expected to begin at 6 p.m. EDT Friday and end at the same time on Tuesday, July 3.

Donations to the nonprofit and more information about it can be made on its Web site.

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