Category Archives: Children in Need

Chris Pratt: Using Star Lord to Make a Difference

Chris Pratt Charity

Chris Pratt is offering the chance to hang with him on set. Check out his fundraising campaign for details. Seriously. I bet he’s awesome to hang with. 

Thanks to my Star-Lord project, I’ve developed quite an affinity for all things Star-Lord. I’ve grown to appreciate the complexity of his character, what he stands for, and Chris Pratt’s depiction of him in the movies and public appearances. I get particularly excited when someone, particularly the actor himself, uses the character for charitable purposes. Chris, more than many other actors, recognizes the power of his character to advance charitable causes, raise money, and lift the spirits of those around him.

Yesterday, I was excited to see that he’s at it again. In an effort to raise money for his hometown Boys and Girls club, Chris is offering some awesome goodies and a chance to visit him on the set of Guardians 2. How cool.

Boys and Girls

From Chris’ site, here’s a picture of kids from his hometown who utilize the club. In his words: “who you’ll help.”

For me, the value of this campaign isn’t the in the rewards. It’s seeing Chris Pratt trying to make a difference by utilizing a character that people love. It’s in him using his fame to improve the world in a small way.

I’m going to support that. Speaking as someone who ran a fundraising campaign for charity, the number of donations matters as much as the total money raised. I don’t have much money to spare, but I’m going to scrape together to do what little I can.

Let’s spread the word and help Chris out.  If you appreciate Chris and managed to scrape something together for a donation, leave a comment!

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A Thought Provoking Banner…

At an event this weekend, I came across a CASA banner posted in a hallway.  I read it, reread it, and took a picture before moving on.  It made me think, not only about the important work CASA does but the power of a strong role model and/or guardian in the life of a young child. Before I go on, let me share it with you:

CASA banner

As I walked down the hallway of the JW Marriott (to an event I was late for), I considered the banner and the story it told. How many children go through their lives without a healthy role model to guide them? Many, I’m sure. The challenge is identifying these children, identifying mentors, and bringing them together.

Identifying the children who need help is the first step, but there are many agencies and organizations already dedicated to this work. Schools, CPS, and even concerned private citizens look for signs of abuse, hopelessness, and depression in today’s youth. We have thousands of children in our CPS and foster care systems who, according to the state, need something more than their biological parents were providing. Agencies struggle to help the parents and the children. Oftentimes, though, children face uncertainty as they are moved from place to place, though the system, with no one person to lean on, look to, and rely on. That is where CASA, and organizations like them, try to step in.

I’m firmly convinced that, for every child in need in our society there are many strong adults willing to be role models and guides. America is filled with wonderful, giving people. The challenge is recruiting those with a little extra time to spare, showing them how they can help, and giving them the ability to do so. CASA aims to bring these people together – the children in need and an adult willing to be there for them as they work their way through the CPS and foster care systems.

Unfortunately for me, my profession keeps me moving and I don’t want to be in the position of leaving a child I’ve formed a bond with. The best I can do is spend a couple of months raising money for the people doing the work that I can’t. This banner reminded me why this project is so important to me.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks to those who have donated!

One Month In…

So here I am, about 30 days in. I can definitely say that this project has been far more work than I imagined it would be when I started. I considered the time and money each piece would require to find, but didn’t think about the hours and hours I would spend customizing each item. The sanding, gluing, painting, sealing, etc. It adds up. The money adds up too. I doesn’t seem like a lot when each item is purchased days apart, but when I add it all together, and take into account the cost of crafting materials, the cost is significant. Quite significant. It’s a little stressful, honestly.

However, I have to follow that sentiment with this one: all my backers have made this project worth it. I’m blown away by the generosity of all those who have donated to the campaign thus far. Every time I get a little stressed out by the work I have yet to do (and the money I’ve spent) thus far, I remember that together we’ve raised $1000 CASA over the last 30 days. That’s incredible. So, thanks to my donors, blog followers, and everyone who has supported me thus far.  Let’s keep the train rolling!

I recently purchased a few new items that I can’t wait to share with everyone. As soon as I get them, expect some awesome updates. Stay tuned and spread the word!

Raised Progress

Chris Pratt Visits a Children’s Hospital

A few days ago, Chris Pratt reminded me that it only takes a small amount of effort to make a child’s day.

On June 20th, the Guardians of the Galaxy star stopped by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit with some of their patients.  Despite his busy schedule, Chris spent hours lifting the spirits of those in need. These pictures come from the hospital’s Facebook page and tell the story of his visit better than I ever could.

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is...

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is…

I'll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

I’ll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

Chris poses with the kids.

Chris poses with the kids.

What an inspiring story.

For me, this served as a reminder of how small efforts and actions can have a huge impact on those who are in need, especially children. In a weird way, it makes Star-Lord feel like a real life superhero and not one that exists purely in the Marvel cinematic universe. I’m excited to finish the costume.

For anyone who would like to donate a couple of dollars to my fundraising effort for CASA, they can do so here!

Abused Children: Inside Out

INSIDE OUT: The emotions. Joy holds a memory.  ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

INSIDE OUT: The emotions. Joy holds a memory.
©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I had two things to do tonight – attend a screening of Pixar’s Inside Out and write a blog post. Although I intended to write about a costume item, I can’t stop thinking about this movie and its implications. The movie explores the workings of a young girl’s mind and emotions. Riley, the main character, is 11 years old and spends the movie struggling with a major life change. We watch the story unfold, both inside and outside her mind.

I promise I won’t give any major plot points away.

The world Pixar creates inside Riley’s head is complex and insightful. Her entire personality and her resilience – her ability to deal with adversity – is based on certain “core memories.” These are Riley’s foundation. For Riley, these memories are filled with Joy. Created when she was very young, Riley’s core memories are consistently reinforced as she falls back on them again and again while she grows. Because her core memories are happy, Riley is essentially a happy person and uses this happiness to overcome challenges.

Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) guide 11-year-old Riley from Headquarters, the control center inside her mind. Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”), Disney•Pixar's

Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) guide 11-year-old Riley from Headquarters, the control center inside her mind. Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”), Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” opens in theaters nationwide June 19, 2015. ©2014 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The implication is that we all have core memories and strong personality traits defined by them. But what happens when our core memories are not happy, but sad? Or angry? Or Fearful?

The implications are tragic. A child whose core memories are any of these would be defined by the corresponding emotion. When faced with adversity, a child without joyful core memories would fall back on something else. Like fear. Purely fearful core memories would result in a child cowering and running when challenged. Anger would cause a child to lash out when dealing with hardship. Sadness could lead to deep depression.

This is what life must be like for abused and neglected children.  In this Pixar world, the traumatic events abused children experience would be so strong and defining that sad and fearful events would make up the bulk of their core memories. This would affect the way they act, the way they confront challenges, and the way they view the world. Sadly, it is very hard to change core memories. They are the foundation.

I, like Riley, was fortunate enough to grow up with joyful core memories, memories I can fall back on when things get rough.  Others aren’t that lucky and find themselves confronting life with a shaky foundation, one that leaves them prone to distress and anger.

Maybe we can’t change the sad or fearful core memories, but we can add a little joy to the lives of these children. Create happy memories and nurture them. Give the emotions living in their heads the tools and the base they need to deal effectively with challenges and, well, life. Maybe, hopefully, we can add a splash of yellow to memories that are currently blue or purple or red.

That’s what this project is about. I’m just a normal guy, but at least I can dress like a Marvel character and raise a few dollars for those trying to help them.

(Inside out is a wonderful film, by the way)