The Children's Miracle Network, an incredible non-profit, is partnering with Microsoft to force hospital-bound children into the middle of a vile, popular-vote based "giveaway." Voters decide which three hospitals receive an "Ultimate Gameroom" and which children will get let down.
The Children's Miracle Network has raised $US3.2 billion for Children's hospitals around the world. While Microsoft has actually helped raise $US1.3 million of those billions and contributed a few XBoxes here and there, they've chucked away any milligram of character with the Ultimate Gameroom Giveaway. This attention-seeking sham they've concocted is on the level of tearing a teddy bear out of a child's arms and then ripping it apart into a pile of fuzzy remains on the spot.
What exactly is so bad about the Ultimate Gameroom Giveaway? On the surface it's a wonderful bit of charity on Microsoft's part: they'll give some Children's hospitals about ten thousand dollars worth of equipment which could include several 42" Plasma TVs, a pair of Xbox consoles, some Zunes, four computers, oodles of games, and associated furniture. Except only three out of the 170 hospitals in the Children's Miracle Network will receive such an equipment package. $US30,000 total, and the hospitals pay all the taxes. How generous coming from a company who spends hundreds of millions on individual ad campaigns.
If Microsoft outfitted each of the 170 hospitals with the same Ultimate Gameroom, it would cost them a measly $US1.7 million. That's a lot to you and I, but to Microsoft that's .6%, point freakin' six percent, of the cost of a single ad campaign. How much more positive publicity would donating that pocket change get? I'd certainly react better to it than I did to the Seinfeld ads.
This tightwad attitude of Microsoft isn't the truly horrid part of the entire "giveaway" though. It's how the three recipients of the gamerooms are chosen: a very public popular vote. Not a random raffle, not an secret vote, but a public, popular vote with results regularly updating on the Children's Miracle Network's website.
As I'm writing this, there is an eight-way tie for last place, with each hospital having one measly vote. How do the kids at those hospitals feel when they see those rankings? The hospitals currently in the top three have a lead of several thousand votes over the rest, but that can and probably will change quickly. How will those kids feel when they miss out on the gamerooms after thinking they could win?
For the sake of feigning concern about charity and kindness, Microsoft is toying with the hopes of children at 170 hospitals and frankly, I would really love to find whoever limited Microsoft's contribution to this charity and tear any Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Summer Solstice, and un-freakin'-Birthday gift right out of his or her greedy, little claws. If you're going to contribute to a charity, especially a children's charity, you shouldn't turn it into a game with winners and losers. Those kids have enough sadness in their lives and they really don't need Saint Microsoft to yank them back and forth in the name of pretend kindness.