Is it really giving if the money you’re shelling out for charity isn’t real? The 6- to 14-year-olds that Disney is targeting in a Dec. 12-22 charity drive on its social networking Club Penguin Web site probably would answer an emphatic “Yes!” to that existential poser.
That’s because donating the make-believe coins they earn playing games on Club Penguin to charities like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund – two beneficiaries of past penguin largesse — means less “money” to spend in the snowy virtual world on rugs and armchairs for their igloos, or hairdos and clothes for their penguins. Talk about a painful choice!
Kids who donate will actually be voting on which of three real-world causes to support, and their giving will determine how the New Horizon Foundation, whose principals started Club Penguin, splits up a $1 million donation to charities that represent those causes. During last year’s 10-day campaign, 2.5 million kids ponied up more than 2 billion virtual coins to help other children around the world, New Horizon’s Lane Merrifield said.
This year’s campaign — at the height of a real-world global recession — could show whether Disney’s message that “It’s a Small World” — the one that sticks in parkgoers’ heads for days — is getting through.