The holiday season, as ushered in by Thanksgiving, is marked by gratitude, generosity, and a spirit of goodwill. It’s the time of year that brings out the best in us and which encourages us to give and give back. This Christmas, why not share the love with a community of fellow gamers? Here are just a few simple ways to get involved with video game charities over the holidays.
If you want to support… the Military
Operation Supply Drop (OSD) champions the mantra “Making Fun Where There is None” by shipping video game care packages to military personnel around the world. They support: deployed service members, military hospitals or hospitals that provide care to veterans and their families, military installation warrior transition battalions, and provide entertainment for morale, welfare, and recreation centers, family days, Christmas parties, and airport lounge facilities.
The organization typically does supply drops on a monthly basis and most recently delivered care packages to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. The supply drop will benefit around 800 patients annually.
For their supply drops, OSD accepts in-kind donations such as video games compatible with current and last-gen consoles, video game accessories/peripherals, and consoles in working condition. OSD also accepts monetary donations which go towards supply drops, the Thank You Deployment program, which honors selected veterans by sending them on a trip with a civilian counterpart, and the Teams program, which brings a social support element to returning service members’ re-integration to civilian life.
If you want to support… Children in Hospitals
A number of organizations support children in hospitals by raising funds and providing means of entertainment (and a much-needed escape from the pain and discomfort of extended stays). Among these 5 worthy groups, there are multiple opportunities to get involved:
The Get-Well Gamers Foundation primarily accepts in-kind donations of video games, controllers, and consoles from all generations. These are then distributed to children’s hospitals across a wide network. The Huntington Beach-based organization also raises money through their eBay Charity Games Auction. And, by using eBay’s Giving Works program, sellers can also donate a portion of the proceeds from their own auctions to Get-Well Gamers.
GameChanger has a focus on pediatric cancer, but supports all sick children and their families. They have an expansive network and range of applications for funds and physical donations. Monetary contributions can be directed towards a specific purpose, such as: financial aid for families struggling to afford expensive medical bills, college scholarships, funds for STEM education, and care packages. They accept nearly all electronics or video game-related items and either donate or re-sell them (giving the profit to a family or individual in need). GameChanger also hosts an annual Minecraft event called Mining for Change throughout November, with the championship on December 5. Participants pay $5 and play Minecraft on the organization’s private, custom server to win exclusive prizes.
Extra Life and St. Jude’s Play Live are two similar organizations with a common goal: raise money through playing video games. Extra Life allows participants to choose which hospital they want to support and hosts an annual 24-hour gaming marathon, while Play Live is year-round and competed in either groups or individually. Both groups encourage participants to raise funds through sponsors, but also accept outside monetary donations (no need to play).
Last but not least is Child’s Play which supports children in hospitals and domestic violence support facilities. They sponsor gaming events to raise money throughout the year, but also accept general cash donations. One special aspect of Child’s Play is their use of amazon wishlists. Donors can visit a particular hospital or domestic violence group’s wishlist and purchase necessary and desired items directly for them. You can find out more information about how the donations are used here.
If you want to support… the Differently Abled
Championing a more inclusive, accessible culture, AbleGamers seeks to change the video game industry and support gamers with disabilities. The organization has created an extensive set of guidelines to help developers create games with options for the various mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive barriers that may prevent differently abled users from playing. AbleGamers also run an extensive database of games reviewed in terms of accessibility and provide grants for the purchase of Assistive Technology for veterans, children, and adults with disabilities. Differently abled gamers can also try out the Assistive Technology at locations across the country for free so that they can avoid the expenses of a lengthy trial-and-error process. AbleGamers accepts monetary donations which can in turn be directed towards a specific cause: research and development, grants, raising awareness, or specific projects.
Other Ways to Show Support…
In addition to donations, organizations could benefit simply by spreading the word and raising awareness for their causes. There’s also Amazon Smile which donates a portion of the sale price to the charity of your choice (at no cost to you) and Humble Bundle which sells game bundles on a pay-what-you-want scale and donates 10% to charities.
These video game charities are doing great things year-round and provide several opportunities and avenues for support. Whether it’s spring-cleaning your game collection or dedicating time to play for a good cause, we are all able to make a difference. And, with Christmas a month away, now is the perfect time to spread the love and bring holiday cheer to those who need it.
Tell us what you think! What video game charities do you support? Do you have any plans to get involved this holiday season? Leave us a comment –we’d love to hear from you!