Contest 6 PREVIEW: ChipIn for Children's Charities

What follows is a preview of what may ultimately prove to be the most important "contest" in this blog's history.

Previously, readers of my blog have only been asked to solve some puzzles, or possibly out-guess their fellow readers, in order to have a chance at winning a prize. In ChipIn for Children's Charities, however, I shall task my readers with doing something that is perhaps more challenging than anything I have ever posted on this blog. Readers, in case the name of the contest didn't already blatantly give this away, I am asking you to donate money to these three charities that I have chosen to partner with:
  • Sanctuary Home for Children: We all know that India has some pretty smart individuals, like Deb Mohanty and the other users of Logic Masters India, but did you know that India also has orphans and widows? Sanctuary Home for Children aims to serve orphans and widows in Tenali, India. My best friend and regular gaming partner Ray Pettit is one of the board members on the Abilene side of the operation, so this charity hits really close to home for me, despite having never been to India myself. I gave them $26 as part of an earlier contest, but feel that ChipIn for Children's Charities has the potential to impact them even more greatly than a few rolls of a twenty-sided die.
  • Child's Play Charity: Child's Play aims to put video games in a number of children's hospitals around the world to give children a pleasant distraction from the otherwise dreary reality that they are sick and in a hospital. This past June, I promoted Mario Marathon, a completely fan-run annual marathon where a team plays Mario games over an extended period of time while raising money for Child's Play, using prizes and other incentives (the amount donated determines how many levels are played) to make the marathon more exciting; I hope that ChipIn for Children's Charities gives me the opportunity to help them even more.
  • The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund: Noted board game reviewer Tom Vasel was inspired by the collective generosity of others in the board game community who rallied around him when he was grieving the loss of his young son Jack, and started the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund to help give other board gamers financial assistance after their own personal hardships. Tom seems like a nice enough guy, and as someone who's had a board game published himself, he played a role in encouraging me to pursue my idea Battle of LITS, so I am pleased to be able to support his charitable mission with ChipIn for Children's Charities. (It's not really a children's charity, but it's named after a child, so I'm not changing this contest's name. Nyeh.)
Let's begin by discussing how the donations will be handled: ChipIn is a free service that allows someone to collect money from a bunch of people. A common use for ChipIn is for charity fund-raisers, as it allows you to see who has donated (in case you want to raffle off a prize to the donors, for example) without actually touching the money. Each charity will have its own ChipIn. Thus, you can donate whatever amount you wish, and choose how to divide it between the charities; all of the money can go to a single charity, or you may split it between two or three charities by contributing to each charity's corresponding ChipIn. Your money will go directly to the charities; I will not have any opportunity to misappropriate the funds in any sort of fashion.

As added incentive for donating, I will give you large puzzles if all of the charities hit certain levels! (This is not a combined total; every single one of the three charities must hit the threshold before the deadline for it to count.)

At the $100 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to the giant (31x45) size! (Puzzle 600 will be giant no matter what.)
At the $210 mark, puzzle 602 will be giant, too!
At the $330 mark, puzzle 603 will be giant!
At the $460 mark, puzzle 604 will be giant!
At the $600 mark, puzzle 605 will be giant!
At the $750 mark, puzzle 606 will be giant! (That's seven giant puzzles to entertain yourselves with after my current drought is over!)
At the $1000 mark, puzzle 600 will be upgraded to a super-giant (64x50)!
At the $1250 mark, puzzle 601 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1500 mark, puzzle 602 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $1750 mark, puzzle 603 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2000 mark, puzzle 604 will be upgraded to a super-giant!
At the $2250 mark, puzzle 605 will be upgraded to a super-giant! 
And last but not least, at the $2500 mark, puzzle 606 will be upgraded to a super-giant! (Not to mention that the charities will be pretty happy, too!)

Oh, and what would a contest be without prizes? There will be four prize drawings: one for each individual charity, and one grand prize drawing. For every $5 you donate to a charity, you will receive one entry in that charity's prize drawing. Each charity will also be associated with a puzzle; if you solve the puzzle correctly, you will receive a free entry, plus an additional entry for every $20 donated. (For example, a $15 donation gets 3 entries, a $15 donation with a correct solution gets 4 entries, and a $20 donation with a correct solution gets 6 entries.) For the grand prize drawing, you may get up to three entries: one for solving all three puzzles, one for donating at least $5 to each charity, and one for solving all three puzzles and donating at least $5 to each charity. Once the deadline has expired, I will use to determine the winners.

But what will the prizes be? Ah, that's where you come in, dearest readers. I am soliciting donations of prizes to make this contest as exciting as possible while minimizing the cost on my part. Just tell me what kind of prize you want to give away (maybe a puzzle book, a gift certificate, a shirt. . . anything you think will be appropriate!), and I'll have the winner e-mail you an address so you can send it. I haven't entirely decided what prizes I want to give away myself, or what date the contest will begin, but once I've figured more out, I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Summary: How can I help?
Donate money! If you can't wait until I have the actual ChipIns set up before donating, donated directly via the charities' websites! However, if you wait, the money will go towards incentives such as how many big puzzles I make (see above).

Donate prizes! Help me give away many great things! I will have the winner e-mail you at the end of the contest, so you don't even have to send me anything!

Spread the word! Twitter users should incorporate the hashtag #ChipInForChildrensCharities for maximum impact!

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