Kids Who Care: Charity Begins With Play

If raising just about any child in today’s materially-focused, celeb-geeked world is a Herculean challenge, then it may seem downright impossible to rear a kid who actually gives a rip—about his or her family, about the community, and about the world around us all. That’s why, when I ran across a handful of toy companies that are encouraging our kids to care, I wanted to grant them a little press.

Take, for example, Disney’s Club Penguin(www.clubpenguin.com)—the plush-toy company that encourages kids to donate the time and coins they earn playing in the virtual world to make a difference in the real world (more than 2.9 million players have donated 4 billion coins). Kids choose their favorite cause, then they get to direct how a $1 million cash donation is divided among projects and organizations that are serving our world.

Think that’s cool? Then give this a gander: Uberstix(www.uberstix.com), which is a construction toy engineered from recycled materials such as straws, papers clips, and water bottles, donates 5 percent of its profits to underprivileged schools within the United States. The company provides these kids educational programs that teach physics and technology—so when your kids plunk down their cash to buy this product, they can feel great about the difference they’re making in their neighbors’ lives.

And then there’s the company with a longstanding reputation for generosity: Karito Kids (byKidsGive at www.kidsgive.com) continues to teach children about charity through its six signature dolls and books, which represent different cultures from around the globe. Whether you pick up Lulu from Nairobi, Kenya, Piper from Sydney, Australia, Wan Ling from Shanghai China, or Piper from New York City—you’ll be making a charitable contribution to a child with your purchase.

To round out this list of do-gooders, I’ll give the final spot to the Drip Drops (www.thedripdrops.com), a company dedicated to helping children explore the world of color with the help of an adorable set of characters first featured in a children’s book series. President and CEO Tony Lawlor created the Drip Drops, then decided to dedicate part of his company’s earnings to the children ofGrossman Burn Center. It’s a cause close to Lawlor’s heart: Lawlor is himself a burn survivor who once had to cope with the financial, medical and emotional traumas that a burn injury brings on. So even if moms, dads, and kids dig the color-saturated Drip Drops purely for their entertainment value—and the little critters certainly areaddictively lovable—they can rest assured that their money has been put to good use. And that kind of generosity, we all hope, will inspire children to pay it forward for many decades to come.

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