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Airman's charity wants gamers to play for a cause

Aug. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Tech. Sgt. Clayton Holcomb, third from left, works with members of the 35th Communications Squadron to inspect game consoles.
Tech. Sgt. Clayton Holcomb, third from left, works with members of the 35th Communications Squadron to inspect game consoles. (Courtesy Clayton Holcomb)
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If you’re done playing Halo 3, Tech. Sgt. Clayton Holcomb wants your game console for military kids to enjoy.

And as in the Ice Bucket Challenge that’s streaming across social media, if you can’t provide a console, donate so new ones can be bought. Through his Operation Game Drop, Holcomb’s goal is to raise about $3,000 and collect countless unused gaming consoles to give to military children undergoing treatments at Naval Medical Facility Portsmouth, Virginia.

A future step is to contact more hospitals and more medical facilities with pediatric wards willing to receive games, Holcomb, in the Air Force 11 years, said.

Holcomb, with the35thCommunications Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, was inspired by nonprofit Child’s Play, a game industry charity that aims to supply children with toys and games at hospitals worldwide. When he pitched his idea to fellow squadron members, the idea “took off.” Word spread to Osan Air Base, South Korea, where game consoles began collecting. And when Holcomb and his team in June launched a Facebook page and a crowdfunding GoFundMe page, money started trickling in from all over.

“When we started looking at the GoFundMe page, we realized this went past our little circle,” Holcomb told Air Force Times. And then Holcomb had another idea: Get the Air Force community gaming during the final hours of donation.

Operation Game Drop plans to host a gaming tournament open to all at Misawa on Sept. 28.

“The tournament is planned so we can draw a crowd,” Holcomb said. “Anything we can do to get people to get there, to make people understand this is what we’re trying to support.”

Airmen can preregister, or suggest what games they’d like to play on the “Operation Game Drop Charity Tournament 2014” Facebook page.

“There’s about 12 console- based games you can play, a whole other PC-LAN party going on for the computer gamers, and for the guys that like the card collection stuff, we have Magic the Gathering,” he said.

Holcomb said he’s trying to integrate some tournaments online so that others can participate all over the world.

Some of the proceeds from GoFundMe will go to putting on the event, and some to purchase the giveaway raffle — a Sony PlayStation 4.

“I was hoping that with something to play for, the players would come, and with the players, hopefully donations,” Holcomb said of the PS4 giveaway.

Once the consoles are rounded up, Holcomb and members of his squadron will test them, clean them up, conduct software upgrades, and repackage them for delivery to Portsmouth.

The proceeds on GoFundMe also will go toward buying brand new Nintendo Wii/Wii U and Nintendo DS game systems, and to preload some games onto them. These consoles cost about $300.

As of Aug. 21, Holcomb had raised $1,505 on GoFundMe and had about 10 lightly used games or equipment, and he intended to purchase 10 to 12 new games.

“This is something that, if we can work it, we’re definitely trying to make it a cross-continental event, and hopefully we can broadcast this out,” Holcomb, who credits his wife, Nicole, as his biggest supporter, said. “Eventually, if it does well this year, we’d like to use it as a platform ... so if someone at another base wants to host the same event ... we can have other people trying to help us accomplish what we’re trying to do.”

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