Last year, when considering the massive amounts of toys, games, movies and computer games he already had, a relative of mine and her son decided to ask guests not to bring gifts to his birthday party. Instead, her son picked out a charity, The Smile Train, and asked guests to make a donation to children in need instead. I thought this was a wonderful idea, and thanks to my relatives, some child received an operation to repair a cleft palate.
In lieu of presents at her 12th birthday party this year, Maddie Freed of Potomac asked her friends to bring money, and she raised $800 for Children's Hospital.
Eight-year-old Jenny Hoekman saves a third of what she makes walking dogs, and this month the Takoma Park girl donated it to help her Brownie troop sponsor an immigrant family.
And in Club Penguin, a popular online game club for the elementary school set, more than 2.5 million kids gave their virtual earnings to charities in a contest this month. In response, the site's founders are giving $1 million to charities based on the children's preferences.