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.