A smiling potato being auctioned off by a North Carolina church youth group to raise money for people in Sudan has brought in an additional 1,045 US dollars for the cause - after proving a surprise hit on eBay and among local donors.
It all started out in a very low key way. The potato, sporting what looks like a healthy grin, was discovered while the senior high youth group at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina, USA, was washing potatoes for a baked potato fundraiser in aid of the Darfur region of Sudan.
However, the event raised 2,280 US dollars, and afterwards it was suggested that the smiling spud might be profitably auctioned off on eBay. The idea was greeted with scepticism by some, but the group decided to go ahead anyway.
When the auction ended the highest bid was 153.51 US dollars, said the Rev Aimee Wallis Buchanan, associate pastor for Christian education and youth ministries at Grace Covenant Church.
Ironically, Grace Covenant's own church choir made the winning bid, and actually "they are giving us 245 dollars for the potato," Buchanan said. "I was so surprised! Smiley [as the spud has been dubbed] will be staying right here in Asheville."
But the giving didn't stop there. Buchanan said she has already received 800 dollras in cheques outside of the auction from people who heard about the smiling potato and decided to donate.
"These past weeks have reminded me, once again, how hungry people are to see and use their power in ways that make a difference," Buchanan commentd.
Money is still coming in. All proceeds are going to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for the relief effort in Darfur.