Make Gaming Matter This Christmas: Help Out Sick Children Near You

Spare a thought (and maybe an old game or toy) for those less fortunate this Christmas. Help out your local children's ward.
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For most, gaming is a distraction, a hobby, or perhaps an obsession–but for some, it is therapy, a lifeline or an escape.

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Whatever country you are reading this from, modern society is fortunate to have access to this kind of technology, and gaming can most definitely be meaningful in the right circumstances, especially for children.

Sadly, it is not always easy for children’s hospitals to source and maintain the tech and the games we take for granted at home.

There are so many poorly children who could benefit from your generosity as they are unavoidably hospitalised, so if you’re clearing out unused games or platforms (or indeed other suitable toys) in anticipation of Christmas replacements, or you just want to make a donation, your act could help make a sick child feel a little better this holiday season.

There is every likelihood that your local hospital has a children’s ward; please consider contacting them to see what they need.

We would be happy to share those details here on GameSkinny to help raise awareness.

Edit: Get Well Gamers is a fantastic US-based charity which provides exactly this service across America. So for US readers with spare stuff and the desire to help out, check out the Get Well Gamers website.

Michael’s Story: Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge

Two weeks ago, my nine-year-old nephew Michael, a budding gamer (especially Minecraft) broke out in inexplicable bruises.  Thanks to the keen instincts of his mother and the diligence of his local doctor, he was quickly diagnosed with leukaemia and rushed to a specialist hospital.

After nine days of absolutely excellent care at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Michael was allowed to return home. However, for the next three years he faces frequent (up to 4 times a week) trips to hospital as the aggressive chemotherapy continues. Encouragingly, treatment for Michael’s condition has advanced so much in modern years that the outcome is likely very positive, and he can look forward to the day he’ll be allowed to play Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

The treatment for Michael, and the other similarly afflicted children we met in the Addenbrooke’s Paediatric Oncology ward, is debilitating and requires an assortment of fluid infusions via a Hickman line; an intravenous access point which remains in place  throughout the years of treatment.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of enforced sitting around–something children aren’t necessarily very good at. Video games can help these poor kids endure their unavoidable treatment.

My Mother has been keeping our family up-to-date with regular emails and one paragraph from her most recent one has an important message:

“In the run up to Christmas I have a request to make. I was horrified when I saw how many games cases were minus discs but it has been explained to us now. A small amount of this is theft (some accidental and returned) but the longevity of toys and games discs at the hospital is relatively short due of the very stringent cleaning procedures they have to use because most of the children have no immunity to any germs.”

“I remember when my children were young, I used to do a pre-Christmas ‘thinning out’ of toys no longer played with [So that’s what happened to my Star Wars collection! – Mat]. If you do this too, please consider donating some good undamaged items to the hospital, but not soft toys as these cannot be cleaned rigorously enough. I know Peppa Pig games discs are particularly sought after. There were a few tears last week because there was only one left and several of the little ones wanted it at the same time.”

Addenbrooke’s Paediatric Oncology ward has an Amazon wishlist, but the hardworking team there will be really grateful for any donations, new or secondhand.

[Postal address to be confirmed.]


Sister Stuart: Great Ormond Street Hospital

By coincidence, leading British games journalist Keith Stuart recently launched a similar appeal on behalf of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, where his sister works as a nurse. The GOSH children’s charity website, Gifts in Kind, does an excellent job of explaining what donations can and can’t be received there, but I expect that similar guidelines will apply to every hospital (the following text is taken from the Gifts in Kind website):

Gifts in kind

We are always delighted to receive gifts in kind for our children, but sometimes we can’t accept what you send us due to concerns about infection and restrictive storage space.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of what our kids love receiving and what we can’t use.

What our kids love

  • board games (for example Connect 4 and Frustration)
  • computer games (Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox)
  • arts and crafts (for example paints and Playdough)
  • modelling kits
  • jigsaws
  • kits for girls (for example jewellery making kits and nail art)

What our babies love

Stimulating new toys including:

  • mobiles and musical mobiles
  • kaleidoscopes
  • toys to stimulate the senses
  • musical toys

What we can’t use

  • used toys
  • over-sized soft toys
  • large mechanical or motorised toys
  • used clothing
  • second-hand books
  • used magazines


  • Don’t forget the age group you’re donating to is 0-18 years (teenagers are often forgotten).
  • Kids love anything to do with Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, Walt Disney, Moshi Monsters and In the Night Garden.
  • If you donate chocolate, make sure the ingredients are on the packet as we have to be careful with allergies.
  • Please do not wrap the gifts. This will enable us to match your gift to an appropriate patient.
  • Unfortunately we are unable to pay for the cost of collecting your gifts and delivering them to the hospital. 

Where to send your gifts

Fundraising Department
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity
40 Bernard Street

Email: [email protected]

Support Your Local Children

Of course, I appreciate that the GameSkinny audience is spread across the globe and it would make sense to donate locally. Please get in touch with your local healthcare services, check out their websites, see what you can do to help make this holiday period that bit better for children.

Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help promote your local cause.

Let’s give our kids the best Christmas we can.

[Images courtesy of the BBC, The Daily Mail, Nerd Like You and my nephew Michael (and his Mum).]

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Image of Mat Westhorpe
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.