Tag Archives: charity

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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Turning a Passion into Fundraising (or What I Learned)

This was an amazing project. Expensive, stressful, and daunting at times, but amazing. When all was said and done, we raised over $1,500, far more than I imagined was possible when I began!

To recap, this project consisted of me painstakingly creating a superhero costume in preparation for a 5k hosted by a local non-profit that helps children in need. The goal was to raise as much money as possible by using social media and a blog to update donors on my costume progress. The project ended at the 5k where I was able to connect with the organization I was supporting and a group of civically engaged individuals who shared my passion for helping those in need. I received countless messages of support along the way, was featured in a local non-profit blog, and learned a ton about fundraising. Here are some of my takeaways:

1. Passion matters. In this project, I aimed to combine two things:

– Supporting a local non-profit that I care about. (i.e. CASA)

– A hobby or passion I enjoy. (i.e. creating my Star-Lord outfit)

Both of these were important. I don’t think I would have had as much fun if I couldn’t passionately communicate CASA’s mission or if I didn’t care about what they do. Similarly, if my project wasn’t something I generally looked forward to working on, I would have burned out. When picking an organization to support, choose you are become emotionally invested in.

2. Momentum happens. Once I started blogging, I began receiving feedback from friends, family, and strangers. People started to follow the project. As people realized what I was doing and recognized the time, effort, emotion, and money I was investing in the process, they began to donate. These donations spurred me to continue blogging and the cycle repeated itself. Blog, feedback, donations, blog. Once I realized that people are invested in what I was doing, emotionally or financially, there was no way to stop. At least, no way to stop without feeling incredibly guilty about letting everyone down. Once you commit, you have to see the project through.

3. Convey your passion. This is why people donate. Sure, your donors feel good about supporting a good cause, but that’s not why they do it. There are countless worthy causes, organizations, and campaigns out there that need money. They donate to support you. You have to convey your passion for the organization, the hard work you’re putting in, and then show them the results. That point deserves its own bullet…

4. Show your donors the results. I received a ton of feedback from individuals who had already donated. They enjoyed seeing my updates, my training, and pictures from the day of the run. A donor is someone with whom you have developed a relationship. They are invested in you and your project. You owe them feedback. They love seeing the results and you will love showing them.

5. You can apply anything to this method of fundraising. The link between my “hobby” and the organization I was supporting was fairly self-explanatory. CASA created the Super Hero run and I merely picked the costume I wanted to create. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t create your own campaign using whatever hobby you enjoy and any organization that needs help. There are numerous platforms online for you to create a fundraising page. Pick a project people can follow and an organization that you love…and get started!

Projects like these enrich your community, enrich you, and enrich those who follow your progress. Fundraising doesn’t have to be tedious. You can do good in the world and enjoy the process as much as the payoff.

The “Run”

After months of preparation, costume design, and annoying my friends on Facebook, the run is complete. Here’s how it went down.

My morning began at 3am. Because my wife was helping to run the event, we had to get there early. Super early. At 4am the park was dark and cool. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. After arriving, I helped place signs, set up tables, and move boxes of t-shirts.

It is amazing how much goes on behind the scenes to make these events happen. There were hundreds of volunteers to direct, water stations to set up, and tents to arrange. Despite everything we had to do, it went smoothly and everything was ready by the time the first runners rolled in.

And roll in they did – over 2500 runners in all. Supermen, Batmen, Ninja Turtles, Marvel, DC, Nintendo and Nickelodeon. Simple costumes and elaborate costumes. I saw it all. Although I spotted several Groots, there were no other Star Lords in attendance.  So, luckily, I had a unique costume. Unfortunately, Star Lord doesn’t really stand out.  Very few people realized who I was. I think most people assumed I was some random futuristic biker. But all of the Groots knew who I was…so there’s that.

He is Groot.

He is Groot.

Before the run, I spent most of my time watching the costume contest. It was great seeing people show off costumes they put so much time into.  I have to say, my favorite was the “Mario Kart” family. Hilarious, and ingenious. Eventually, it was time to head to the starting line. I made my way there and ended up near the end of the pack.  That was fine with me.  I wasn’t looking to win any speed medals. In fact, I was so paranoid of dropping the Walkman that I ended up walking the majority of the route.  My brother, dressed as Duffman, walked with me.

I’m not going to lie, it was warm. Hot even.  The jacket and the pants are not ideal for running/walking. However, I’m proud to say that I survived.

Guardians of the Galaxy...and Robin with ice cream.

Guardians of the Galaxy…and Robin with ice cream.

Found some other Guardians at the run.

Found some other Guardians at the run.

Here is the full getup!

Here is the full getup!

Side Project: Honey Lemon Helmet

So, I took a small break this week from working on the Star Lord costume to help another racer with their super hero outfit.

The costume was Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.

Here is the costume.

Here is the costume.

My first task was making the helmet. To do this, I decided to use EVA foam. There are tons of tutorials and videos showing how to craft EVA foam costumes so, after studying up, I got to work.

We began by wrapping someone’s head with foil followed by masking tape. The tape helps reinforce the structure of the mock up.  After drawing the helmet shape we wanted on the masking tape, we cut it off. It looked like this:

Helmet mock up.

Helmet mock up.

At this point, I referenced a particularly helpful Youtube video to transfer the pattern to the foam. I watched it about 30 times.  The guy’s accent is awesome.

After transferring the pattern to card stock and then foam, I cut out the foam and assembled the helmet.  The foam helmet then looked like this:

Here is the base helmet before accent pieces and paint.

Here is the base helmet before accent pieces and paint.

I used a few more foam pieces to make the wings. I used a dremel to shape the pieces. I then applied a couple layers of Mod Podge followed by multiple layers of Plastidip to reinforce the helmet and seal the foam.

Plastip seals the foam and provides a good base for the paint.

Plastip seals the foam and provides a good base for the paint.

I painted it afterwards with multiple layers of watered down acrylic paint. We went with a shade that was a little more “pink” than the original.

The color is more pink than the original.

The color is more pink than the original.

Then, I used thinner craft foam from Hobby Lobby to make some of the accent pieces. I painted the craft foam orange before attaching them to the helmet.

The nearly finished helmet.

The nearly finished helmet.

Unfortunately, I’m still a novice at this and so wasn’t able to get the helmet as smooth as I would have liked. I still need to apply a clear coat, but here is the almost finished product:

Nearly done!

Nearly done!

The race is less than two weeks away! Thanks to those who have already donated!

The Iconic Jacket

This was a big one.

The Jacket.

The Iconic Jacket.

Guardians of the Galaxy Star Lord Jacket

starlord-jacket-900x900

This is a picture of a display of the screen used jacket.

This is a picture of a display of the screen used jacket.

I’m not going to lie, I was putting this off for two reasons. First, there are so many options out there for the jacket that it was incredibly difficult to pick the right one.  I couldn’t find any that matched exactly and so this became an exercise in comparing numerous jackets to find one with the details I liked and without ones I could sacrifice. Second, the jackets are expensive. Red leather jackets – even if I wasn’t going for an exact match – are not cheap.

And then, after weeks of agonizing over this decision, my wife made the jacket my anniversary present. Rather than surprise me the morning of (which she felt bad about), she decided to discuss it with me in advance and together we settled on a good one. We spent just a little bit extra to get one made of real leather rather than imitation, for realism and durability.

Here it is (pictures from the website):

Here it is! There are some details that don't match exactly, but it's not a bad substitute.

Here it is! There are some details that don’t match exactly, but it’s not a bad substitute.

Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_Peter_Quill_Jacket__69332_zoom

While looking at this jacket on the website, we noticed multiple reviews where buyers stated that they were able to wear the jacket day to day. To us, that was an added bonus. If you’re going to spend a ton of money on a jacket for a costume, may as well make it one you can wear when you’re not at a Superhero 5k or Comic-Con, right?

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!

Rocket Booster Controls: Part 2!

These were a fun little art project. Let me remind you what they looked like when I received them:

As you can see, it needs some finishing work.

As you can see, it needs some finishing work.

Using an X-ACTO knife, I cleaned out the grooves and tried to smooth out any rough parts on these props. Once I was satisfied with the grooves, I spray painted them flat black.

Spray painting the booster controls. I made sure not to fill the grooves with paint by overdoing it with the paint.

Spray painting the booster controls. I made sure not to fill the grooves with paint by overdoing it with the paint.

Using a brush this time, I slowly applied a layer of silver Rub-N-Buff to give it a dirty, metallic look.  I left the center button black to match the film used prop. When I liked the look, I sprayed it with a coat of glossy Deft to protect the paint.

One thing I noticed with the Rub-N-Buff is that it NEEDS the clear coat. With paint, you can get away without the protective coat.  You would be taking a chance that the paint chips, but you could handle the prop carefully and get away with it. Not so with Rub-N-Buff. Because it is wax based, a thin coat never really seems to dry completely. It will rub off and blemish if touched with enough force. Just a word of caution there.

Anyway, here is a step by step look:

Finished product on the right. Thoughts?

Finished product on the right. Thoughts?

Thoughts?