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Clay Aiken Fans Donate More Than $21,000 To Local Groups

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Fans of "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken continue to show their support for the Raleigh singer with contributions to two local organizations in which he had been involved.

A total of $21,580 has been raised for the benefit of

The Autism Society of North Carolina

and the

A.E. Finley YMCA

, both Raleigh-based nonprofits.

The money came through direct donations made in honor of Aiken. An additional $10,880 has been raised from sale of Clay Aiken T-shirts by the Claymates, Aiken's official fan club. Profits from the sales of all T-shirts will be distributed evenly between the ASNC and the YMCA, spokesman Tommy Austin said.

Fans from all over the world have contributed, according to the organizations.

At the Autism Society of North Carolina, contributions have come from all 50 states, Canada and Singapore. In addition, the organization raised money by auctioning two Clay Aiken banners and sponsored an event last month at Triangle Town Center where fans were invited to record video greetings for Aiken prior to his last competition on the show. According to David Laxton, ASNC's director of communications, a total of $7,200 has been raised for his organization.

The A.E. Finley YMCA estimates it has received approximately $3,500 in contributions honoring Aiken, said Tim O'Connell, branch director.

Aiken was a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte working on a degree in special education when he -- along with 70,000 others -- auditioned to become a contestant on FOX-TVs "American Idol." He ended the series as first runner-up, but during the run of the show, Aiken used his stage to raise awareness of the good work done by both the YMCA and the Autism Society of North Carolina.

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