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!
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!
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.
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.
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.