An unlikely group of elves will once again help donors provide toys and games for sick kids in western Iowa. After an article about violent video games infuriated fans and players of the digital games, the “gamers” came up with a way to show their good side. Mike Fehlauer is the webmaster of the Internet site “Penny Arcade” and says they decided to do something that would show the negative stereotypes of gamers were wrong.
He says it was “just a bunch of nonsense,” and to show the violent and dysfunctional image of gamers was inaccurate, they made a “wish-list” for Seattle Children’s Hospital, told readers of the website to fill that list, and within a couple weeks raised over 250-thousand dollars. Fehlauer and a couple colleagues created “Child’s Play Charity dot-com,” an on-line donation site that let people order gifts from Amazon.
They figured they’d have the orders shipped to the home of one of the organizers — and quickly filled the home, the garage, a van parked out front, a rented storage unit — and rented a warehouse and filled that. That’s when they decided they should have everything sent directly. The organizers asked on-line readers to suggest more hospitals they could help, and added two-dozen to the list including Omaha’s Children’s Hospital as well as the Nebraska Medical Center.
Fehlauer says you just go to the Child’s Play website, click on the hospital, you buy something from Amazon and it goes directly to the hospital you bought it for. Store-bought toys are requested, rather than homemade — and not teddy bears, they’ve learned.
Some of the toys are given out as gifts, others kept at the hospitals for many patients to use — like the agreement that video-game consoles will be permanently installed at the children’s wards. They can be cleaned easily, but plush toys by contrast can carry lots of germs, “and that’s why you won’t find fluffy bunnies on the list.” The two Omaha hospitals are the closest, as none in Iowa are on the list yet, but Fehlauer says it’s grown in the first two years, includes hospitals in Canada and the United Kingdom, and will keep growing.
He says it’s “a thing now, a movement,” and people have stepped up wherever they’ve heard about it. Game companies are now making corporate donations, and communities have made it their own. He says organizers are delighted at the response, and they’ll never stop doing it. To learn more or nominate a hospital in your town, surf to “Child’s Play Charity-dot-org.”