It’s the Holiday Season, that magical time of year that gives you an excuse to plunge further into credit card debt, gives your office an excuse to host parties of questionable quality, and gives charities an excuse to hit you up for donations. There are literally thousands of charities that solicit donations at this time, all of them deserving of your money and time. Giving to all of them is impossible, and the guilt that this generates in the average human psyche can be crushing, assuming it’s not simply ignored. The trick is to pick a charity that resonates with you personally, one that will grant you the most emotional satisfaction per dollar or hour spent in its name.
In 2003, the guys at Penny-Arcade started the Child’s Play charity—originally a simple Amazon wishlist that has since escalated into what I like to call a beautiful international fiasco—to accomplish two things in one stroke. One, prove that gamers aren’t psychopaths obsessed purely with their own self-indulgent fantasies, and two, do this by having gamers give toys to kids in hospitals. These are goals I can get behind.
It’s been nineteen years, so there isn’t much I remember from the surgeries and therapy. I remember that waking up from the surgery was the moment I learned the definition of “excruciating” and that the hours of physical therapy taught me, truly, that you can never get something for nothing. These are not lessons that a six year-old should have to learn. Being in a hospital as a kid sucks. The demands made of the patient are unpleasant and constant, and kids don’t do unpleasant and constant all that well.
At some point during my stay, a TV cart with Super Mario Brothers was wheeled into the room. It was a fleeting experience, but it followed me home. Super Mario Brothers, along with a windfall of games purchased by friends and family members, helped me pass the time while I recuperated. Instead of worrying about the next trip to the hopsital, I wondered how to beat World 3-3, or how to get out of the Lost Woods. Games made the whole awful experience tolerable. I want to live in a world where no child has to go to the hospital, but since that’s impossible, the next best thing I can do is to share what worked so well for me. I don’t write as well as I’d like, and I’m finding it difficult to express the fact that buying a videogame for a kid in a hospital is literally the best thing you can do for him or her.
So, to review. A charity started by people like me that helps kids with whom I identify. This is my charity.