O'Donnell jumps with Pogo

Teams with game site for charity

Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell spends a lot of her free time playing casual online games on Pogo.com.

She now has teamed with the Electronic Arts-owned gaming site -- currently the No. 1 casual online game destination -- to raise money for her charity program, Rosie's For All Kids Foundations. The Pogo Cares Benefiting Rosie's For All Kids Foundation is a two-month program to raise awareness of the charity through the 18 million unique online gamers worldwide that play on Pogo. EA has committed to donating $30,000 to the foundation, which helps bring child care, education and happiness to America's kids.

As part of this program, EA has organized the Play & Chat With Rosie Sweepstakes, which allowed "Tumble Bees" players this month the chance to win an online play and chat session with O'Donnell. "Bees" happens to be O'Donnell's favorite casual online game. A second contest will fly two winners to New York to meet O'Donnell in person and attend a For All Kids charity event.

O'Donnell said her foundation, launched in 1997, already has raised about $70 million. All the money that Pogo raises will go into that fund, which has opened 27 daycare centers for disadvantaged and at-risk children nationwide and created grants for more than 900 child-related programs.

"We've done everything from helping after the Katrina hurricane to creating basic arts programs in inner-city schools," O'Donnell said. "Pogo really does care; they are giving us money based on how much you play and they've guaranteed us a very significant sum. So, thank you for playing and thank you Pogo, you rock."

EA launched its first Pogo Cares Program in 2001 with a campaign to help seriously ill children maintain a better life while going through medical treatment. Since then, the Pogo community has united to support other issues, including the fight against breast cancer and heart and lung sickness. In the past two years, Pogo players have successfully raised more than $100,000 in charitable giving.

"The Pogo community has a history of coming together to raise money and awareness to help those in need," Pogo vp and GM Karen Schulman said.

As part of the program, the 1.5 million Club Pogo subscribers can collect such special limited-edition items as T-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories to customize their Pogo Minis avatars through July 17. The items were designed by O'Donnell for the game. They also can earn O'Donnell avatars, which should appeal to the large female audience that congregates at the site.

"I really believe that the biggest increase in gaming is women," O'Donnell said. "You put the kids down and you have some time and you don't want to watch how horrible the news is and you want to just chill. You don't want to focus on a book I find that it's very comforting."

O'Donnell got hooked on Pogo games a few years ago after she did a Google search for online gaming.

"I looked until I found something fun and had games that I liked," O'Donnell said. "I've been to a lot of gaming sites and I found Pogo the easiest and the most consumer-friendly, and there is a little community of people."