Rent-Direct.com, an online marketplace for no-broker-fee apartment listings in the New York City metropolitan area, has set up a Tsunami Relief Fund to aid disaster-stricken countries in Southeast Asia.

The tsunami, caused by a tremendously powerful earthquake below the Indian Ocean, has killed at least 150,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands, and left many people homeless. The death toll could rise, as there is still a long list of missing people, according to United Nations emergency relief administrators.

In addition, Rent-Direct.com is setting aside a portion of all January sales and will present international relief organizations AmeriCares and Architecture for Humanity with a check earmarked for their work in Southeast Asia. The money will provide medical aid, water sanitation kits, and will help rebuild homes, schools and medical centers. Ralph Barocas and Larry Rosenberg, Rent-Direct.com’s owners, kicked off the fund with a donation of $1,000.

“The number of people left homeless and hurt is unthinkable,” said Larry Rosenberg, president of Rent-Direct.com. “Housing is our line of business, so starting the Tsunami Relief Fund was easy and the right thing to do. We’re hoping this encourages other businesses to reach out, too.”

Rent-Direct.com has inspired several local companies to form the NYC Small Business Coalition, which aims to solicit relief aid from those who subscribe to company e-mail newsletters or regularly visit their Web sites. Visitors to the Rent-Direct.com Web site are urged to make a personal donation directly to a reputable charitable organization.

According to a press statement, NewYorkBoxes.com, TheDinersDeck.com and Jennifer Levey of Blue Star Jets will donate a portion of their monthly sales to the relief effort. Brian Ellner, candidate for Manhattan Borough President, HotNYCDeals.com, TheMenEvent.com, OxfordMaids.com, MeettheNeighbors.org and TheLunchClub.net will offer links to credible charitable organizations on their Web sites or via e-mails.

The L Magazine hopes to leverage its popularity to promote a tsunami relief fundraiser. “As small companies, we can’t just sit in the shadows of this tragedy,” said Scott Stedman, publisher of The L Magazine. “Our team is eager to get involved and ready to lend a hand.”

To learn more about the Rent-Direct.com Tsunami Relief Fund and the NYC Small Business Coalition visit www.Rent-Direct.com.

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