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The new year has kicked off with a flurry of celebrity charity auctions, with items for sale to benefit a plethora of worthwhile causes and issues.

The American Civil Liberties Union is a national organization that advocates individual rights by litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a broad range of issues, including free speech, AIDS, human rights, racism, and more. The Southern California branch of ACLU has launched an auction on www.charityfolks.com to raise much-needed funds.

Items up for auction until January 3 include lunch with Jake Gyllenhaal on the set of his new film, a framed and autographed art print by Viggo Mortensen, the chance to dine with Harry Belafonte or Mike Farrell, a signed T shirt and photo from Danny Glover, and original artwork from singer Maria McKee, and an autographed copy of Corinne Bailey Rae's single, “I’d Like To”.

Also up for auction on the Charity Folks website are 12 twelve very special packages to see Hilary Duff in concert. VIP tickets and the chance to go backstage to meet the young diva are included, and the concerts are being held across the US, Mexico, and Australia.

Proceeds from the auction will go to Blessings in a Backpack, a program run by USA Harvest to generate public awareness of child hunger. The organization will use the money to assist in providing weekend meals to needy children and ensure that their nutritional requirements are met. The auction runs until January 25.

Virgin Unite has put several items up for auction, including a leather jacket designed and signed by Jon Bon Jovi, a guitar autographed by Jewel, and a cymbal signed by members of the Beastie Boys.

Virgin Unite is the non-profit entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group, established by Richard Branson as a catalyst for business based solutions to social and environmental problems. The auction ends on January 3.

Artists for a New South Africa is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 to advance human rights in Africa, and now encompasses a whole raft of issues, including the fight against AIDS, assisting children orphaned by AIDS, and educating and empowering youth. They are offering some incredible items for auction until January 18, including original Star Wars comics signed by Samuel L. Jackson, a signed photo of ex-X Files star Gillian Anderson, and signed CDs from Mandy Moore.

And finally, the Friends and Helpers Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists victims of domestic violence, is auctioning items such as a Red Hot Chili Peppers poster signed by bass player Flea, a signed photo of Donald Trump, a flag autographed by Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan, and a guitar signed by LeAnn Rimes.

2008 looks set to be the year of celebrity giving.

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