A few years back during my fall quarter at UW I got pretty sick, I don't know all the technicalities behind what happened, but my doctor pretty much said my immune system was on overdrive. It got to the point that I had to drop most of my classes except for the one that I really needed to take. Traveling back and forth from my parents home in Bellevue to UW, as well as having a part-time job and being ill was really hard to manage.
One of the biggest things that helped take my mind off being sick was playing video games. I was and still am really fortunate to be able to afford the parts to a build a really nice gaming computer. Video games helped make the illness a lot more bearable by letting me immerse myself into a nice, little virtual story (I'm not a fan of the really violent ones, I like a nice story). Now, I don't condone playing excessive amounts of video games, but when I was stuck in my room most days, it helped past the time while I was getting better during those few months.
A while back I came across a charity called "Child's Play". They are a non-profit organization that uses the money to raise purchase toys and video game consoles for hospitals for sick children. This organization immediately piqued my interest. It made me think about how much worst it could've been without a distraction. I also learned that a variety of gaming/software companies; ranging from small, independent ones to bigger companies, also donate a their time and money to help this charity. Aside from the companies, a lot of gamers spend their time helping their cause, by posting events on their event calendar.
A lot of time gamers will hold a marathon to see how much money they are able to earn during the few days they are playing. I've spent some time joining them on the marathons and it is really touching to see this community of gamers come together to try and help children. Also, there are other companies/developers who will actually donate their own games through websites such as http://www.humblebundle.com/. From there you can pay any amount of money for a bundle of games and then choose if you want to split the money between charity, the website or to the developer. Even though I appreciate the work from the developers, I've always donated the entire amount to the charity.
If any of you have any free time, please take a look at Child's Play at http://www.childsplaycharity.org and feel free to take a look at their events and/or donate. I know there are a lot of charities out there for a lot of amazing causes, but this one holds a special place in my heart.