U grads start online charity date auction to benefit attack victims

Elizabeth Putnam

Ahmed Siddiqui and Waima Azizi have seen myriad celebrities donating time and money to benefit those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks.

But when the recent University graduates saw Jay Leno offer to auction off his motorcycle on ebay.com, they got an idea for an auction of their own.

But instead of a motorcycle, their auction includes a date and a good meal.

Siddiqui and Azizi run a Web site called BlazingInferno.com, which has held online auctions since September. Now they’re enlisting University students for a charity date auction to help students contribute to the United Way Sept. 11 Fund.

“As students, we don’t have a lot of money to give away,” said Azizi. “But I know that students want to get a peace of mind knowing that in some way they helped.”

So far around 60 participants – most of them from University groups such as orientation programs, New Student Weekend and the greek system – have put up a profile and photo for viewers to bid on.

Bids start at $25 for all of the dates.

“As students isolated from the rest of the world in a bubble called the ‘U of M,’ it’s hard to realize the impact the Sept. 11 tragedy had on our mental, physical, spiritual health,” said Siddiqui and Azizi on their Web site.

“As students, we can’t volunteer to go to New York, we got tests. As individuals, how do we know our contributions actually make a difference. But as a collective group, we can make a significant impact on the lives that were affected by the tragedy.”

Bidding will end on Saturday at 10 p.m. and winners will be announced via e-mail.

“We hope to raise around $2500, but we also hope to find an organization or business that will match that amount,” said Azizi.

All of the bidders and their dates will go out collectively on Oct. 14. Azzai said they’ll split up into small groups and go to several restaurants. He hopes to find around 20 eateries to provide free food for the dates.

“It will be a group date so there won’t be any concerns about safety,” Azizi said.

The BlazingInferno.com Web site was put together as a resource for students. Future plans for the Web site include a book exchange in the spring, a business directory and coupons for local businesses.


Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]