When I was little, I had a problem chewing on my lower lip. This problem developed into a cyst that had to be removed from my mouth surgically, involving an overnight stay in the hospital. That night scared the crap out of me. I remember telling my mom that I loved my sister for good golly sake, the worst thing a small boy can admit to. The best I can say from that experience is that it left me with an unease of hospitals and a small spider-shaped scar in my inner lip, which is kinda cool.
Then, a couple of years ago, I witnessed the other side of the bed. The girl I was dating's little boy came down with pneumonia. He had to be put in the hospital for a couple of days. Seeing the worry on his face, being in a foreign place, poked and prodded while his mommy and dude-in-over-his-head stood by and watched... Shit, that haunts me. I know how he felt. So I did what I could: I went and got his toys, books and videos. We played trucks up and down the halls (the nurses loved us), we read when he could not sleep cause the oxygen nose thingie just is not made for comfort and we fell asleep to the 312-334th viewings of Curious George (that movie also haunts me, too. Damn you Will Farrell). Point is, distractions and normalcy make a hospital visit so much better to a small child. Play is good. Don't worry, I am sharing for a reason.
Last year, I promoted the charity Child's Play. I am still doing that. Created by the webcomic folks at Penny Arcade, Child's Play is a worthwhile use of your attention and money. Listed as "a chance for gamers to give back," the charity raises money and materials for children's hospitals around the world. They give the distractions that so many children so much sicker than me and my little buddy ever were really need. Child's Play helps children in need play, and honestly I cannot think of anything more worthwhile. 'Cept maybe Smile Train... or the Ronald McDonald House... Dammit, stay focused...
So, a charity by webcomic-isists you say... How good can it be? They only already crossed 1 Million dollars in donations and gifts this year. But, if you still do not trust the hellions over at Penny Arcade with your money, that is fine. In conjunction with hospitals around the world, Penny Arcade has set up wishlists over at Amazon.com (This link is for the Children's Hospital in New Orleans, my personal favorite and closest to home.) That way you can donate directly to the hospital if that is your bag.
As librarians we give a lot, if not all, of our time helping. If you feel that is enough charity, I will back you everyday of the week. And if you already donate your money or time somewhere, bless you as you are better than I will ever be. But if you feel like helping a few kids to play, throw out some money for a book, DVD or video game to a kid's hospital. You make the world a better place, but there's always ways to make it just a little better. That's coming from a real cynical bastard, so you know it's true.
Notice: Know that Child's Play is a nonprofit organization. I have not received any money, nor will I receive any money for this posting from Child's Play charity. I support this charity of my own free will and have not been taken over by said organization as a ploy to integrate webcomics into the library community. Unshelved already did that anyway.