It’s that time of year again: Child’s Play 2010 has begun, and that means that it’s time for me to buy a game for some kids who really need it. I tried to write something eloquent and succinct, but they did a better job than I could. Here’s a cut-and-paste from their website:
Since 2003, we’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 60 hospitals worldwide. In five short years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars. […]
Child’s Play works the same as last year. With the help of hospital staff, we’ve set up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, and movies. You can go to each hospital’s list and buy a toy, and that toy will be sent to the hospital. Some of these kids are in pretty bad shape. Imagine being stuck alone in a hospital over the holidays, getting something from a fellow gamer would really raise their spirits. Some of the stuff the hospital will give away for kids to keep, while other gifts (like consoles) will be kept by the hospital for patients to use throughout the year.
Basically, this charity is teaming up with more than sixty children’s hospitals around the world to stock their library with books and movies and video games and consoles and all sorts of other things to help distract them from some of the most painful, most difficult experiences they’ve had. It helps them cope with the reality of enduring otherwise unbearable medical treatments.
When I was seven years old, I lost my dad to a horrific car accident. Over the next two years, my mother became increasingly distant before finally abandoning my sister and me. She left us with our paternal grandparents and never looked back.
When I look back on that experience, and realize how absolutely crushing it was to me, I remember what got me through: video games. I had a long series of video game consoles in my bedroom (starting with the NES, of course), I carried a GameBoy in my hip pocket, and I had an Atari 2600 to play in the counselor’s office at my school, where I had regular, weekly appointments to deal with what I was going through.
If it hadn’t been for those games, and the friendships that I built around gaming, I don’t know how I would’ve emerged from that experience — losing my dad, then being abandoned by my mother — with a single ounce of sanity. Those games made a difference for me because they gave me an escape. They gave me a distraction. They probably saved my life.
I have plenty of friends who endured these hospital visits as children, and some of them have shared with me fond memories of playing Pitfall! or Super Mario Bros. while they were going through one treatment or another.
What I had to endure is nothing compared to the horrific experiences suffered by kids in hospitals, some of whom spend more time in a hospital lab than in their own home. I have plenty of friends who endured these hospital visits as children, and some of them have shared with me fond memories of playing Pitfall! or Super Mario Bros. while they were going through one treatment or another.
If I can buy these kids a book, or a movie, or a video game, or anything else to help them get through whatever they’re going through, I’m going to do it. Most of the people who read this either have kids, or plan to have kids. If that’s you, the only motivation you need to donate is the mental image of your son or daughter, sick and terrified in a hospital, begging for a distraction or an escape of some kind. This is your opportunity to stock a game cart for a kid in a hospital, knowing fully how deeply they would appreciate if someone did the same for theirs.
Some of you went through this as children yourselves. You don’t need any motivation. You just need an opportunity to do something. Here it is.
For the rest of you, I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said here. It’s a move made out of kindness, and it’s one that will undoubtedly make a difference. If you can’t afford to give, that’s fine. If you can, however, I really think that you should.
Donating is simple. All you have to do is go to childsplaycharity.org, choose a hospital by clicking on a controller icon on the map, and buy something. The controller icons on the map link to Amazon wishlists for each hospital. When you buy something through that wishlist, Amazon will pack up your purchase and deliver it directly to the hospital you selected.
If you’d rather make a straight cash donation, you can do that, too.
Please, take a moment to browse through one of the wishlists for a hospital on the map. If there’s something you can afford to give, please consider giving. My friend Amber already bought a copy of the original Star Wars trilogy for one hospital, and tonight I’ll be buying a video game for the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL.