Charity is reaping online rewards. . .

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selling your unwanted stuff on Ebay has always been a nice little earner for people clearing out their cupboards.

But it can also be a way of helping a good cause.

Award-winning Kivo-Ebiz sells about £1,000 worth of items a week on behalf of individuals who don’t want the hassle of doing it themselves.

It’s the trading arm of Kiveton Park and Wales Community Development Trust and all the money made is ploughed back into the villages.

It’s been so successful that it has just been awarded a £10,000 development grant by Ebay, one of only ten groups in the country to receive the award.

Kivo-Ebiz takes 20 per cent of the sale price of what it sells, but usually manages to get a higher price for goods anyway.

Founding director Steph Hryschko said: “People buying on Ebay tend to trust charities more than individuals so we often manage to get 20 per cent higher prices anyway.”

“When we started out we thought it was a service that people without computers would use, or people who aren’t confident with IT.”

“But we have found it’s more popular with young professionals who haven’t got the time or commitment to do it.”

It was Steph who had the idea to set up the Ebay service in 2005 when her daughter was moving home.

“I had all her stuff in my garage and she said I could sell it on Ebay, but I didn’t know how,” she said.

“I got one of our IT guys at the trust to show me and then I asked all the directors to donate some stuff so we could try it out.”

“It worked well so we decided to go ahead and offer our services to the general public.”

Steph said she nearly didn’t apply for the Ebay grant because there are 700 charities operating on Ebay, but decided at the last minute to give it a go.

“It was a complicated application process and then I went on holiday and forgot about it. I was amazed to find we had got through to the second round and then to hear we had been successful.”

The money is being used to employ Kyle Wakelin for 20 hours a week, the charity’s only paid member of staff.

Kivo-Ebiz is no stranger to awards though.

In 2008 it won the Yorkshire and Humber market town award for most outstanding project, and then went on to scoop the title for England and Wales.

In 2010 it was voted Rotherham’s Community Project of the Year.

Some of the most expensive items sold by the charity include a £1,000 watch and a two-week share in a canal boat for £2,000.

They sell many cheaper items, but don’t take anything less than a tenner because of the time and effort involved in monitoring sales.

Their storage room is an Aladdin’s cave of toys, clothes, home gym equipment - even antiques.

“People usually have a minimum price they will accept and if we don’t achieve that we can either return it to them or donate it to a charity shop,” said Steph, 60, of Manor Road, Wales.

“We research the value of items and always finish bids on a Sunday night because that’s a peak time for Ebay users.”

“You tend to find the busy times are when the soaps aren’t on.”

Steph grew up in Kiveton and her dad worked at the pit.

She moved away to go to university and then to teach science, but came back 20 years ago.

“I was quite shocked that some things were still an issue here. I was invited along to what I thought was just a barbecue for the community development trust but it was the AGM and I ended up accepting the post of secretary,” she said.

“I’ve been chair for the last seven years.”

Steph is keen to see the preservation of the grade two listed Old Colliery Offices, where Kivo-Ebiz is based.

She said it’s the only building in Rotherham left standing from the area’s mining community.

The trust doesn’t own the building but has taken on responsiblity for maintaining it. The latest project has been £15,000 on repairing the clock tower.

Kivo-Ebiz chief packer Arthur Whiteway has been one of the volunteers scaling the scaffolding to help with restoration.

As well as selling items on Ebay, volunteers also do all the packaging and queuing at the Post Office.

They recycle packaging and bubble wrap from local businesses.

“We’re normally at the Post Office on Monday with a 100 parcels,” laughed Steph.

l To contact Kivo-Ebiz go to kivo-ebiz.co.uk or call 01909 770007.