Thursday, November 29, 2007

Better than a wristband.

Livestrong wristbands have always struck me as, at best, very tacky. And at worst they're a way for vapid, banal people to pretend that they're deep and caring by making a fashion statement out of charitable giving.

It all rubs me the wrong way. I don't like talking about when and how much I give to charity, much less wearing it like some kind of badge. That's not the point, and I feel like it cheapens what I'm trying to accomplish. So while I often talk to people about charities, I almost never tell people when or how much I give. I think of it as a quiet, personal rule.

But I'm going to break that rule for a moment, because I think these two causes deserve the added weight of an, 'I did it, you can too' endorsement.

Every year at Christmas, I usually make a donation to a charity, spending as much in that donation as I feel would be appropriate to spend on a set of gifts for a friend or family member. Last year, and the year before,I gave to Child's Play: An EXCELLENT charity that I certainly recommend you all check out, even if you don't feel like giving, I hope it will shatter your preconceptions about Gamers and video gaming. (Those of you who don't already know about it, that is.)

This year, though I went with a different charity, and dropped a bit more than I usually do. But I feel it's worth it. I also feel it's worth it to tell everyone about it, as it's a pretty neat opportunity.

This organization gives specially designed laptops to children in the developing world. The laptops are engineered to be durable, versatile workstations that can enhance learning and enable a child to bridge the digital gulf between the first and third worlds. They have a free standing networking capability, meaning that they can create a wireless network wherever they are or link up to the internet if there's a gateway. They have a lot more information about the XO laptop on the site, so please go check it out.

Right now they're doing a promotion in the US and Canada: Buy one of these laptops for a child in the developing world and you can buy one for yourself or a child in your life. Each laptop costs $200. Which is pretty amazing when you think of the features it's packed with. Its an incredible deal, all things considered.

I know that if I were to see a child playing with an XO laptop, I'd be filled with admiration for the person who chose to give them, and a less privileged child far away, a powerful learning tool and enriched two young lives.

And that's a damn sight better than I can say about a crappy day-glo wristband.


Trillian said...

The (red) theme is an easy way of showing that you gave money. Brands have always been a way to show off material wealth. The person with the Gucci label on their pants obviously has more money than that of the person with Old Navy on theirs. Product Red is a good way to show that a person has been generous. It is a really excellent tactic to play up American consumerism and materialism. We are a wealthy nation and American Teenagers spend a pretty nice amount of dough. Generally, teenagers are more inclined to be fashionable than to donate money. If something is trendy, teens will flock. I’m not one to normally fall for trendy, but since it was being a sheep for a good cause I went along with it, and so did many other people because when I bought my shirt there weren’t many left.

Slacker Ninja said...

There are plenty of ways to show that you gave money. But usually I find the idea of showing off how much I gave to be distasteful.

Rather than saying, "Look at me, look at how much I give! I must be a good person." I like to say, "Look at this organization, look at how much good they can do. We should help them."

I think that often, as in the case of LiveStrong wristbands people are doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

But that's still better than doing the wrong thing, or nothing at all.