You know. For kids.
October 18, 2004 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Child's Play Returns: Last year, Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins got sick of gamers being portrayed as violence-drenched dweebs and asked their readers to pitch in for a toy drive for Seattle's childrens' hospital. They ended up raising over a quarter of a million dollars in toys and cash in the space of just a few weeks. This year, they've added four more childrens' hospitals to their list for their readers to support during the holiday season. Mike and Jerry originally did this as a way to rebut the perception of gamers, but it also shows the power of personal credibility with regards to Web sites -- the people who contributed didn't just do it to redeem the image of gamers, they did it because Mike and Jerry asked them to. This political season we've seen how bloggers can add to the coffers of candidates by endorsing them to their readers, but I think this is an even stronger case of online personal credibility translating into action (a similar case, on a slightly smaller scale: Pamie Ribon of and her readers contributing nearly 500 new books to San Diego County Libraries). Would that more of the "big" bloggers and popular sites did more of this sort of thing.
posted by jscalzi (12 comments total)
I think that the Penny Arcade toy drive is wonderful.

However, I do not think that private charity should be seen as a potential substitute for public funding of public institutions like libraries. I especially deplore the idea of public libraries having Amazon "wish lists". If people really believe that public libraries should be better funded and have better collections (and I do) then I think that cause would be better served by working for those ends on the public level, rather than by playing Lady or Lord Bountiful to one's "pet" library.

(Which is not to say that I don't think that Pamie's heart was in the right place in starting the library gift project, because I think it absolutely was. I just think it's short-sighted despite its extremely good intentions.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:52 PM on October 18, 2004

Sidhedevil: except that private donations actually get the library what it needs, while appealing to the government is slow and (often) a waste of time.
posted by zelphi at 7:18 PM on October 18, 2004

Zelphi: except that, when one is trying to argue against public funding being cut for Library Y, people will say, "But look at Library X--they cut their funding, and lots of nice people bought them books anyway."
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:30 PM on October 18, 2004

And by "will" there, I mean "do".
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:31 PM on October 18, 2004

Good on the Penny Arcade guys. I've always enjoyed their comic (and especially) Holkins'/Tycho's column. I especially love that the creators of such a consistently misanthropic and messed-up cartoon are responsible for such an effective charity drive.
posted by GriffX at 7:33 PM on October 18, 2004

I used to run a porn site called, and at one point I was broke and asked users to donate to me. I rased $100 from about 11pm to 8am, when they shut down my CC processing account because they "didn't do porn".

sucked ass, because I really needed money.
posted by delmoi at 8:46 PM on October 18, 2004

Sidhedevil writes:

"If people really believe that public libraries should be better funded and have better collections (and I do) then I think that cause would be better served by working for those ends on the public level, rather than by playing Lady or Lord Bountiful to one's 'pet' library."

This is not unlike saying you shouldn't give a blanket to a neighbor whose house has been hit by a tornado, because then FEMA might not think it's needed.

The is a faulty division, in any event. One can both help a library out of a current budget jam and work to restore its funding on a public level; doing one does not exclude the other. I donate books to my local library all the time and I'm not currently aware of it being in a budget crunch; I just happen to think that once I'm done with a book, it'd be good to share it. The local librarians do not criticize me for implicitly arguing that their budget is unnecessary, they simply thank me for the books.

Nor do I donate books out of some lordly noblesse oblige, but rather because I believe citizens ought to care on a personal level about their community. It's an egalitarian, not a noble, impulse. The first person who suggests that the book I donate to my library implies there should be a reduction in the library's budget is going to get a whack from a book spine. I think it means that the library is freed up to buy another book. It's like getting two books for the price of one.
posted by jscalzi at 9:24 PM on October 18, 2004

Sidhedevil raises an interesting point, but I think it's misguided logic. Most public institutions like libraries have "friends of" organizations that help them out at least at a nominal level, and in smaller communities there may be no public funding at all. Recall all the Carnegie Libraries: the fact that someone funded a building and startup inventory often spurred communities into public funding for ongoing operations and expansion. Also, do not run the equation in your mind such that a library being perpetually underfunded -- and most of them, likely, are -- means automatically that public money can ever be found to make up the difference. That just isn't the case, most of the time.

Here in my community we have recently converted a former high school auditorium into a "performing arts center", with a good portion of the capital for the conversion coming from private foundations (we have some very generous multi-millionaires in town), but the bulk of operating expenses to come from the city budget. The city asked the Center to make up the difference between its realistic funding level and its dreams by holding a major fund-raiser; they invited Tony Bennett to open the hall, with tickets priced at fund-raising levels. The hue and cry began immediately and still continues; certain yahoos feel that a publicly funded institution ought to allow people to buy $5 tickets to see Tony Bennett, instead of "lousy local yokels" such as our wonderful symphony. That was just the capper on a season of people carping about public funding for this and public funding for that with comments like "if the millionaires want it why don't they put up ALL the money for it?" You'll never convince everyone; in this case, the important people understood the funding paradigm, and it looks like we will have a healthy arts program there for the forseeable future.

Meanwhile, as long as we're on the topic, what happened to the MetaFilter Scholarships?
posted by dhartung at 9:39 PM on October 18, 2004

I thought that libraries couldn't just accept "normal" books because they have to pay extra for books they're "allowed" to loan out.
posted by krisjohn at 12:22 AM on October 19, 2004

blah blah blah libraries blah blah what the fuck ever.

Child's Play is a great idea.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:51 AM on October 19, 2004

Last year, I donated a GameBoy SP to Child's Play. This year, I'll need to scrape together the cash to get'em a Nintendo DS, methinks.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:28 AM on October 19, 2004

I thought that libraries couldn't just accept "normal" books because they have to pay extra for books they're "allowed" to loan out.

While it might be possible that they're supposed to, as a bookseller, I've had libraries buy books at regular price through our store. There are more expensive "library bound" versions of some books available, but more for their durability.
posted by drezdn at 5:32 PM on October 19, 2004

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