As we sing our holiday carols, wrapping gifts, enjoying food and drink that we only have this time of year, the idea of charity is brought to our attention on every street corner.
Last week I had the chance to attend an event that I had been looking forward to since I found out I would be moving back to Seattle, the Child’s Play Charity Auction. Why? Well as a gamer who firmly believes in supporting children in need, Child’s Play is a charity I can’t help but love.
Child’s Play started in 2003, a game industry charity group that gives toys, electronics and money to 70 Children’s hospitals around the world. The charity works two ways. You can look at their site, find a hospital’s wish list and send a gift, or you can donate cash. With cash donations, they buy new consoles, games, and more for hospitals.
Basically, the charity helps children who are in these hospitals have access to age-appropriate entertainment. This means they can interact with others in a positive, fun way. Not only that it can give them a distraction from what can be a difficult and scary experience.
“When I tell them that we have video games for patients to play you can visibly see them relax. Parents are relieved to know that we can provide something familiar and comforting for their child during a stressful time in their lives.” (Read the entire letter.)
— Karen M., Child Life Manager, Children’s Medical Center of Dayton
There is a good chance that gaming consoles are not the first thing you would consider to get kids who are in a hospital, but think about it for a moment. For a child who is away from the comforts of home, struggling with illness, and often separated from family and friends, the hospital is a lonely, scary, frustrating experience. Games give them a chance to play, to relax and just be kids. There have been so many studies on the importance of play () it would make your head spin. For a child who is too sick to go out and run around and play outside with their friends, video games provide that important outlet for play.
It isn’t just about play though, Child’s Play also provides iPads and other devices that help kids stay connected with online tools like Skype.
The auction was amazing, there were members from all aspects of the gaming community, graphic deisgners, writers, engineers, company owners, celebrities, and people like me, who haven’t worked for a game company in a while but love the community and this charity. The items on auction ranged from replica portal guns from Portal 2 signed by the team that created the game, tours of different companies, collections of books, tee shirts, video games, a signed Chris Kluwe jersey and so much more. That night, the charity raised over $200,000. I will admit there were a few times when I teared up seeing people get so involved in the event, thrilled over bidding victories and cheering each other on to give just a little bit more.
The fundraising goal this year for Child’s Play was $2.1 million, but as of writing this post, they have cleared $2.9 million.
I think this quote really sums up why this is such a important achievement: “… donations support seriously-ill children in hospitals by distracting them from their illnesses, and help them cope with fear, anxiety, and boredom.” (You can read the full letter.)
— Cameron Hosner, Children’s Hospital of Michigan
And isn’t that what this season is about? Giving and helping others find joy? No matter what your charity is, be it working at a shelter, donating clothes and food, or helping sick children find comfort during a frightening time…this is the season to remind those in need they are not alone. That someone cares.