In 2003, Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik (Gabe) and Jerry Holkins (Tycho) realized that the site's readership had expanded to the point where they had the power to affect change in a great many people. Like all good geeks, they had listened when Uncle Ben told a certain young man that "with great power comes great responsibility." They also recognized that if a person can afford video games, a person can afford to give a little too. Gabe and Tycho created a charity geared toward gamers called Child's Play.
Child's Play is a charitable organization that recognizes that play is important for healing. It also recognizes that hospital stays are boring for children. So, Child's Play works to put games in the hands of sick kids in hospitals all over North America and now London.
It's actually a very simple system. Hospitals and other health care centers that focus on children apply to join the Child's Play list. These places then put together wish lists. Gamers can give in a couple of ways: You can give a monetary donation to Child's Play, or you can select the hospital of your choice from the Child's Play list and give directly to it via the organization's Amazon wish list.
In 2009, Child's Play raised over $1.78 million in cash and toy donations. That's astounding for a charity in its sixth year. 2010 is starting off well with over $400,000 in donations already given at the beginning of the season on November 8, 2010. Child's Play also hosts an evening dinner gala and live auction in Seattle each year. Tickets are $145 per person, and this year's event sold out in a matter of days. Perhaps the turnout is due to excitement over the Portal Gun scheduled to be auctioned off at the black-tie event.
As it turns out, gamers like auctions. This year's Child's Play fundraising season includes some very interesting auctions going on over at eBay. Firehose Games is auctioning off Video Game Character Naming Rights for the game Slam Bot Scrappers. According to the auction listing, 100% of the final sale price will go straight to Child's Play to put games in the hands of sick kids. Not into playable character naming? What about getting a book dedicated to you? For those who are heartsick because the annual event sold out before you could get tickets, why not bid for a ticket? It comes with a date with Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub.
It doesn't matter how much a person gives. Every bit counts and every penny helps sick kids feel better. That's why Ars Technica is having a drawing-based giveaway for anybody who gives to Child's Play and sends in their receipt. Regardless of what you might win from of it, you'll be helping sick kids feel better and showing the world just what gamers are really made of.
While you're at it, check out these other geek-related charities, and then let us know if we missed any in the comments.
Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conducting science experiments at home. Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Transylvania University, and has experience in copywriting for education, print, business, and the web. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter via @HuTerra.