The Hero Behind the Mask: Jon Robinson AKA Ronan Angelos

I had the opportunity to meet Ronan Angelos during the Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 Costume Contest.  This man was very new to costuming at the time but he took 2nd place in the Intermediate category (entering as a beginner!).  Little did we know we would become friends after that adventure!  Since then we have both participated in several charity events getting to know each other and at many conventions.   This man is newer to costuming but has accomplished some amazing things, just check out his Facebook page to see what he has done!  He actively supports his local costumers and cosplayers through a Facebook group called Anyone Can Cosplay.  He even has a YouTube channel where you might learn an thing or two!  Thank you for always upping the bar and being an example that you can make anything you set your mind to!   –Mala

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Name:  Jon Robinson AKA Ronan Angelos

Location:  Salt lake City, Utah

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
The very first time I started cosplaying I realized the joy it brings to the little kids. So Once I found out there was a local group that used their cosplaying skills to benefit kids and charities, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Knowing that I brought a smile to someone’s face. And no matter what that person is going through, for those brief moments I am a super hero for them.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was an event that was to benefit Lupus research. I was still new to the whole cosplay scene and only knew a couple people in the group. Everyone made me feel welcome and had fun while helping to raise money for research.

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Charity event at Hogal Zoo

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
It would have to be my Mad Eye Moody. It is a very recognizable costume and range of the fans is huge. Everyone from a little kid to a grandparent loves harry Potter.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment :
During one Con I was able to be part of a Make-a-Wish event and granting a wish for a Little kid who wanted to be the Doctor (from Dr Who) When it was my time to interact with him, I made him my world. Even though we were surrounded by lots of people, it was a very special moment to be able to interact and see his face light up when he we done with my part. It was truly humbling to know what he was going through and to know I was able to help him get his mind off it.

What is your favorite cause to support?
After the above event, it is now Make-a-Wish.

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The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
You mean apart from dressing up in a costume? It would have to be wearing a huge armor costume and riding a peacock on a Merry go round at the zoo.

Who inspires you?
Sounds corny, but my mom. She has nothing to do with causeplay, but she is a great example of service. She is 84 and bed ridden. But she has done over 1000 crocheted baby blankets for local hospitals and other groups. She doesn’t let her frailties stop her from helping others.

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
Do it for the right reasons. When you are doing an event, be there for the kids. Don’t do it to show off your costume to other cosplayer. Kids don’t care how great the craftsmanship is, they just care that they can get a picture with their hero.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
There will be a Toys for Tots drive on Nov 22nd at Hastur Games & Comics 6831 S State St, Midvale, Utah 84047

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Cosplayer, because I not only make the costume, I play in it.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
It was a Space Marine from the game Warhammer 40k

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m a Systems Administrator (IT Guy)

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
Ever since I saw the behind the scenes from the original Star Wars, I have always wanted to build models and props.

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Tell us something random about yourself:
I was trained in Psychological Warfare in the Army as my job.

Star Wars or Star Trek: -Hard decision, I would have to say Star Wars though

Marvel or DC: Marvel all the way

Favorite Comic Series: It is a lesser known one and was only like 20 in the series, it was called Nth man from marvel. It was about 2 kids that grew up in an oppressive orphanage. They both had some powers. One turned into a super spy and the other turned immortal and made some bad decisions along the way.

Favorite Comic Character: Captain America

Favorite Book: Too hard to decide, but favorite series is The Horus Heresy series. It is a story set in the Warhammer 40k world, but 10k years before when they split the Empire.

Favorite Video Game: Fallout series

Favorite Convention:  Only been to 3 so far, so I would have to say the first SLCC

Affiliations (clubs or groups):  Mandalorian Mercs and Rocky Mountain Muggles (a Harry Potter group)

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Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/JRobinsonCreations

Facebook Cosplay profile: https://www.facebook.com/ronan.angelos

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+RonanAngelos

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ronan7557

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ronan7557

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ronan7557

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.

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The Hero Behind the Mask: Harley’s Vintage Kisses

I want to introduce you to a personal friend and an inspiration for CAUSEplay. This little vixen is obsessed with detail and accuracy, which pushes her to make amazing costumes and learn new things.  She isn’t afraid to share her knowledge, posting tips and WIPs on her Facebook page!   So, make sure to follow her to see what new tips she has or what she is working on.  She also has a huge heart for such a tiny gal, always going the extra mile to make sure the kids are smiling at charity events!  Love your face and can’t wait to see all your new adventures!!!  –Mala

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Name: Harley’s Vintage Kisses

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

What got you into CAUSEplaying? 
I was invited by HEROIC Inc when I appeared in my Harley Quinn costume for the opening night of Dark Knight Rises

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
There is nothing, I mean NOTHING like the feeling you get when you see a disabled or special needs child meet their favorite super hero.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was a community event at the local library themed, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. They had police, fireman, truck drivers, and all sorts of different careers children might be interested in, including super heroes.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?  That’s a double sided question, lol! I like to wear Harley Quinn because I get to be giddy and silly, same with my Gir (from Invader Zim) mascot costume, but they are not the most comfortable. Harley Quinn started out as a 2 hour makeup ordeal. Now I have it down to about one hour, depending on the method and product I use that day. Gir requires zero prep, but I need assistance getting in and out of the costume and need a dedicated handler, or spotter, while in costume. Wearing Gir is like wearing a portable Sauna. I truly like wearing Black Canary for comfort reasons, but she isn’t nearly as popular with kids as Harley and Gir.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment :
I get just ONE?? There were a couple events I was wearing my Gir costume and I had little girls take a huge liking to me. One event the little girl didn’t know what I was, and when my spotter informed her I was a dog the toddler kept finding sticks around the park and bringing them to me. At various times she would just come out of nowhere and give me a huge hug. It was SO adorable. Similar things have happened where I get a little girl around 3-6 want to just keep dancing with me (yes, I dance as Gir). Other times I’d let them scratch Gir behind the ear and tap my foot with excitement when they did. This would be followed by a gale of laughter form the little ones and they’d keep coming back to dance, give me hugs, and scratch my ears, haha! The funny thing with my Gir costume is the visibility is so limited for me inside the costume half the time I don’t even realize someone is posing next to me for a photo, let alone what they look like, so later on I see pictures of myself or get comments as I make new friends “YOU’RE GIR!! OMG! MY KIDS LOVED YOU!!”

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Make-A-Wish-Duckie-Derby as Gir

What is your favorite cause to support?
I’m honestly not sure I can pick a favorite. I’ve really enjoyed supporting the down syndrome walks, MDA events, and anti-bullying.

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Anti-bullying Fair as Harley Quinn

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
It’s no holds barred when I embody a character for these kids. Harley Quinn flails a chicken or rubber mallet about while encouraging kids to come dance with her. I’ve done hula-hooping, cartwheels, line dances, and obstacle courses while wearing Harley Quinn. After 4 hours of literally dancing, skipping, and running I am one tired lady.

Who inspires you?
My friends inspire me the most. Most my friends are involved in costumed charity work and their big hearts continuously instill my faith in humanity.

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
Remember you are there for the children. They should always come first. Second, WEAR COMFY SHOES!

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
The Purple Dash a 5K for Epilepsy Awareness

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
It depends on if I am costuming or cosplaying. 😉 Honestly, I genuinely embrace the character and act in addition to dressing up, so I’m okay with either term.

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Walk With Angels as Black Canary

What was your first costume/cosplay?
I was probably 13 when I dressed up as Princess Leia in the white robes from A New Hope. I spent lots of time studying her costume and looking in to the details, like how glossy her lips were. I also put an Ewok costume together for my younger sister. Then in High School my cousin made a Sailor Mercury costume for me. The first costume I had made (by the same cousin) as an adult was classic Harley Quinn in 2008. I wore it to the Chicago Comic Con.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m an account manager for one of the waste/garbage companies. Yeah….not nearly as awesome as being a billionaire by day and vigilante by night.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
A professional super hero for kids in need. But that would defeat half the purpose, since it would no longer be charity/volunteer work, but rather a job. I can’t imagine anything better than bringing smiles to children’s faces all day. Too bad the Disney Princess market is so competitive. Since those are not likely, I think being a voice actress would be superb! Think about it; it’s okay if you don’t look like a super model, or have fancy clothes, or even if you smell funny! You just come in your sweats, have a seat in a little box, and talk to yourself in various voices all day.

Tell us something random about yourself:
I eat souls to sustain the lustrous shine in my hair.

Star Wars or Star Trek:Star Trek for the sake of humanity, lessons, and warm fuzzy feelings. I always liked Star Wars, but there wasn’t enough for me to love. Star Trek has endless seasons and tons of movies! Star Wars wins the bad ass costumes contest and action side of things, though.

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Never a dual moment with Harley’s Vintage Kisses!

Marvel or DC: DC! I relate to more of their characters. Favorite Comic Series:Sailor Moon, actually. My 13 year old self fell in LOVE with the TV series and opened the gates to comics and anime. Batman would be second, cliché, I know.

Favorite Comic Character: Harley Quinn (Original classic derived from the 1990’s animated series, NOT the newer versions!)

Favorite Book: Wheel of Time series

Favorite Video Game: Skyrim

Favorite Convention: Otakon and SLC Comic Con

Affiliations (clubs or groups): HEROIC Inc, Dolls & Gents (Vintage/Pinup Charity Group). Huge fan of the Mandolorian Mercs.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarleysVintageKisses

Additional awesome to share:
Here is a link to article on Fox13 News about the Down Syndrome walk. I’m on the featured photo for the article with two freaking adorable girls I helped through the obstacle course.
http://fox13now.com/2014/09/20/heroes-the-theme-of-fundraiser-for-down-syndrome-foundation/

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.

How to get into CAUSEplay

How to get into CAUSEplay

Written by Adventures With Mala
Edited by Harleys Vintage Kisses

There are many options to get into CAUSEplay. This will have some recommendations, but please keep in mind there are many ways to use your costumes to give back to the community.   Hopefully this will get the wheels turning and inspire you!

You may be asking why you should listen to me. At the risk of sounding conceited, there are several reasons. First, while living in Utah I participated with H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. for nearly two years. Second, before joining this organization, I volunteered, in my community without costume, in several aspects. Third, I am currently finding ways to CAUSEplay in my new community. In other words, I am living what I am writing about. Finally, I have a Master’s in Public Administration where I studied nonprofit organizations.

So, how can you get involved? The first, and easiest, way to get involved is to see what groups may be in your area. Each group will have its own acceptance process and policies. I highly recommend contacting the group to find out their process AND the requirements to keep your status with the group. For example, how many events must you attend to maintain your status with the group? What are their expectations? Does their overall mission and purpose fit with your goals? What are their costume requirements? Once you know the expectations evaluate if this fits your life and individual expectations. If everything says green light, then congratulations, you are now involved in CAUSEplaying!

There are many organizations out there that participate in a CAUSEplaying capacity. All of the Star Wars costuming clubs do fundraising and other forms of CAUSEplay, though they do not call it this. There may be a superhero or Disney princess group in your area, Harry Potter club, Ghostbusters, Resident Evil Hives, Star Trek (though I have not heard of this group being active in a CAUSEplay capacity), and so many more! Please note I will be compiling a list and information of various groups, their locations, and websites to publish on this site at a later date. If you have one to bring to my attention please let me know because I know there are many I am not aware of!

If no group exists in your area you can create your own. This can be a very time consuming and frustrating process. In essence you will be creating a small business. If you want to take donations directly I recommend that you file for a nonprofit organization 501(c)3 status in order to have a Tax ID people can donate to. This will protect you legally and add legitimacy to your cause. Otherwise you will have to partner with an organization with an established Tax ID for taking donations on their behalf. Before you take on a feat like establishing an organization or group make sure you are up for the challenge and have a good support system. Find people with a similar interest and passion to carry the load with you. This will make managing events easier and can attract new people to your group. If you are not sure where to start with this look for books on starting a nonprofit organization and reach out to other groups to find out how they created their groups. As mentioned above each group has different policies. You can always review the policies and decide what works best for you.

If the idea of a group does not work for you, or you do not want to start one, then you will have to create opportunities yourself. As we speak I am doing just this by creating a toy drive for a local homeless shelter. Something like this can be done with a community partner (a.k.a. a local business). For example, a comic book, hobby, or toy store. H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. in Utah allies with Hastur Games & Comics each year to help Toys for Tots. I have allied myself with a local toy store that I frequent. I recommend that you establish a relationship with the company before you approach them with this idea. It will increase the likelihood of them agreeing, because they know you. If you do not know anyone personally maybe a friend does who would be willing to act as a reference and facilitate this conversation. Keep in mind that drives are not limited to toys. You can arrange a food, clothing, or school supply drive. The purpose of the drive should focus on the needs of the charity you are assisting.

With Christmas just around the corner the bell ringers will also be out. You can volunteer your time to help them out, as well. Just make sure they are aware you will be doing this in costume and that they are okay with this since you will be representing their organization. People will notice the costumes and ask what you are doing. Also, getting their picture with a hero increases the likelihood of donations.

If a drive or bell ringing do not seem like the perfect fit you can always approach an organization you care about to find out what fundraising efforts, festivals, walks, or events they have coming up and if your services might be useful. Sometimes organizations have a super hero themed event where having people in costume would add to the experience. One of my favorite annual events as a member of H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. was with a local library’s program for children with disabilities. Each year they have a super hero themed event where we interacted with the children. They had various activities that helped increase dexterity, cognitive, and social skills. The kids were learning and practicing skills, without even realizing it, while hanging out with their favorite heroes!

Some people will argue that showing up to an event does not count as a charity, I would like to remind you of the story I just shared and how we helped the children get involved at the library event. It is important to remember that most nonprofits utilize volunteers to meet the missions because this reduces the need for staff and the overhead costs. By volunteering your time you ARE helping the organization! If you help provide a fun environment at a walk or other event then participants are more likely to attend again, increasing the rate of donations and volunteerism for that organization.

Other methods of CAUSEplay can be bringing attention to a cause or organization. This is something that can be helpful for a nonprofit organization. A great example of this is Cosplayers for a Cure in Canada who use the convention environment to bring attention to Breast Cancer. Just by talking and advertising for an issue you are helping an organization and a cause. Recall the attention Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) received from the viral videos of the ice bucket challenge. Though not necessarily a CAUSEplay event, I participated in costume and challenged my costume friends to do this in costume as well. Even if people didn’t donate the nation was talking about this chronic disease and learning that it is not called Lou Gehrig’s disease and that there is more to it. How many of you googled to see what exactly ALS was when you first saw the videos?

There are even simpler ways to CAUSEplay. If you make props you can always see if Make-A-Wish has a need for something you make. For example, MKF Props made a Star Wars Mandalorian bucket (helmet) and donated it to make a kid’s wish come true. You can always see if your local children’s hospital or Make-A-Wish chapter would be interested in your assistance. Keep in mind that organizations like this are very picky about who they involve due to the sensitive nature of who they serve. You may have to submit for a background check before you can fully work with them. You may also be asked to not wear your mask on the hospital property. It never hurts to ask and find out how to be involved!   Some of my friend’s favorite, or proudest CAUSEplay moments, involve a terminally ill child. Though it tugs at their heart strings they have never regretting giving up an afternoon to put a smile on that kid’s face.

Due to things in my life and having to make real adult life a priority, starting my own costume charity organization has been very slow going. But, I still want to give back to my community while I figure this out. Because of this desire I have decided to start selling prints with a percentage of the proceeds being donated to a charity. I plan to change who benefits from this every three months, once I get it up and going. You can do something like this or donate a portion of your profits from prop making. Another option is donating costumes or services to an organization to auction of as a fundraising effort.

Get creative! There is so much more you can do! Go to a library and see if you can read a story to kids in your costume or help teach them to read. There are nonprofits that focus on education of preschool kids that may also be interested in something like this. You can even get involved as you!

Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.

CAUSEplay: Cosplay for a Cause, True Heroes of Cosplay

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Most people have heard of cosplay but fewer have heard or understand CAUSEplay. If you are reading this chances are you know what cosplay is. In case you don’t, this is short for costume play and involves wearing a costume while acting like that character. More frequently it is just dressing as a character or in an inspired fashion. With the recent increase in popularity of geek culture this hobby has increased with it. CAUSEplay is a break off of cosplay where people use costumes for charity. This is also gaining popularity as costume clubs and 501c3 nonprofit organizations pop up all over the world. Even individual CAUSEplayers are even making a difference in their immediate communities.

Star Wars Costume Clubs like Rebel Legion and 501st Legion are some of the oldest organizations around involved in CAUSEplay, in fact they were doing it long before this phrase caught on. Just so you understand the structure of these groups these are international clubs divided regionally into garrisons for ease of management and accountability, this is very important because they represent Lucas Films. This also makes the level of their costume quality and expectations higher than a local group might have. If you are new to costuming and interested in joining one of these clubs make sure you review the costume requirements before making your costume to save yourself time and money. Each club has a strong charity aspect to it doing a variety of good for their communities. You can search for your local chapter’s Facebook page to see what they are doing.

Though the Star Wars clubs are among the oldest costume organizations there has been an influx in comic book focused groups such as Arizona Avengers and Comic Book Character for Causes, a 501c3 organization in Washington State. Some groups even accept Disney Princesses, movie characters, and video game characters like H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc., a 501c3 organization in Utah. But the groups do not stop here. The Resident Evil games and movies also have chapters, or Hives as they call them, that do the same type of charity work. There are organizations dedicated to Harry Potter, Ghostbusters, mermaids, pirates, and the list can go on and on. You think of a costume and chances are there is a charity organization or club out there!

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Examples of fundraising include the Alpine Garrison (Utah’s 501st) raising $2,878.57 during Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 for the Peter Mayhew Foundation (petermayhewfoundation.org) to assist with medical costs for families that need assistance. At this same convention the Mandalorian Mercs’ Utah Chapter, Krayt Clan, worked with H.E.R.O.I.C., Inc. and Rogue Base (Utah’s Rebel Legion) to raise money for Make-A-Wish. I couldn’t find a total for all the groups involved in this but they did reach over $2,000 for the numbers I could collect. These same groups also fundraised during the Salt Lake City FanX 2014 convention for kids with the Utah Muscular Dystrophy Association to attend their summer camp. And during Rose City Comic Con the Cloud City Garrison (Oregon 501st) also raised money for Make-A-Wish. These are just some examples but there are many out there.

You may be wondering how they raise this money. It is simple, get your picture taken with your heroes and donate a few bucks! The 501st also does blast a trooper to raise funds. You have to have better aim than those stormtroopers after all. While raising money and awareness to a cause these dedicate individuals also bring a fun atmosphere!

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This fun atmosphere can assist in other charitable ways by bringing awareness to a cause; especially since nonprofits have limited resources for advertising and having “attractions” to bring people to their events. These types of events include local fundraising walks; after school, youth, or at risk programs; programs for children with disabilities like summer camp, festivals, or day programs; scouting activities, award ceremonies, or leadership training; library activities; toy drives, food drives or clothing drive; or anything that a nonprofit organization can think of to raise money, items, or awareness to their causes!

Recognized organizations like those listed above also have the amazing opportunity to help Make-A-Wish with requests. Seeing these kids smile and have a great time is one reason many CAUSEplayers site as to why they do this. If you are interested in working with Make-A-Wish please note that they prefer working with established and reputable groups due to the sensitive nature of what they do. It never hurts to reach out to your local Make-A-Wish and see if there is something you can do though!

You don’t have to be a big group to make a difference though. The Northwest Mutant Academy Costume Club of Washington is a small group of friends who does a lot of the same things listed above. They do it for their love of costumes and for the fun of it. One thing this group does on their own is a food drive to help out local people but they are always open considering an event if they are approached.

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You don’t have to be part of a group to CAUSEplay or make a difference in your community. Individuals can make a difference to. Last Christmas a CAUSEplayer reached out to the cosplay community to send Christmas cards to a terminally ill man with a disability because he loved super heroes. The response was over whelming as people from everywhere sent cards, pictures, and gift to this man. Though a brief moment in his life it brought him joy and showed the world how amazing the cosplay community can be. And this showed how something very simple can make a huge difference.

If you want to make a difference in your community you can! Create your own food or toy drive with the holiday season just around the corner. Homeless shelters and foster organizations are always in need of clothing, shoes, socks, coats, ext. and can use help in collecting these. Talk to your local library if they have any events you can help out with. Another thing you can make arrangements with nursing homes to visit the elderly. Or make a prop to donate for a Make-A-Wish request. Many nonprofit organizations have small budgets and are already running on budgets that do not allow them meet the needs of the population they serve. If there is a cause you are passionate about simple email or call the organization to see what they need help with. You don’t have to CAUSEplay to make a difference. You can be a hero without dressing like one, after all real heroes are inside us all.

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As you can see the groups that CAUSEplay are as varied as the ways they can assist their communities. The reasons people CAUSEplay are just as varied. Some do it to see the joy in kids eyes when they see a favorite character, to know they made a difference is someone’s life even if it was for a moment, others as a reminder that there is good in the world, some to make amends for mistakes they feel they have made, and others simply for the fun of it. There is no wrong reason to CAUSEplay but if you don’t do this, or something like it, maybe you should ask yourself why?

Look around and see how you can be a real hero in your community! If you are interested in more info on this stay tuned for my next post on how you can get involved in your community.

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