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Maine school turns to online auction

Lebanon Elementary School in southern Maine hopes to raise funds through an online auction to send fifth graders on a trip.

This could be the end of the bake sale as we know it.

Lebanon Elementary School in southern Maine is planning an online auction as a fundraiser. In an effort to send its fifth-grade students to a four-day environmental education program, the school is planning to auction an array of items to Net users worldwide, in what the school says is the first event of its kind for a grade school.

The school is looking to raise $7,500 of the $15,000 needed to send the students to the program in Ocean Park, Maine, this May, the school said.

Online auctions have become a tremendously popular activity online, with sites such as eBay and Auction Universe attracting millions of users hawking items that run the gamut from used computer equipment to Beanie Babies. Its quick rise to stardom has caused firms such as eBay to fall under the scrutiny of federal regulators, and the intense traffic volume has led to outages and other problems. Issues such as the legality of auctioning guns online have propelled the young Net auction firms into the center of debate.

But the items up for bid at Lebanon Elementary School's auction are unlikely to cause any federal probes. Along with auctioning goods, services, theater tickets, fine dining, crafts, and collectibles, the school said it is offering big-ticket items such as a football autographed by NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and a TV movie script autographed by country star Clint Black. Also on the block is lunch for four with Maine Gov. Angus King at the Blaine House, the governor's mansion.