Heroes Behind the Masks: Costumers With A Cause

OMG! Costumers With A Cause has some amazing costumes!  Between that and the fun they have at their events I struggles with selecting photos for this interview!!  These guys sure know how to have fun!  I know you will pic that up as you read through this great interview! In addition to that a few of the members were kind enough to answer a few questions so you can get to know them a little!  I hope you enjoy their interviews linked at the bottom!  –Mala
 photo group_zpszmcqkeyc.jpgGroup Name: Costumers With A Cause

Location(s): We started in the Orlando Florida area, I brought the group to the Chicago area 7 years ago. I have had costumers contacting me wanting to start up branches in New York, Ohio, Utah, South Carolina, and Los Angeles California

Mission Statement: Our mission is to work together with children’s charity organizations and charity events that promote community growth, unity, and hope for every child’s future. Together we believe that a world of difference can be made with a smile, photo or a single hello. It is our goal to utilize our talents to the best of our abilities in order to make a child’s day brighter.
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When was the group started? And by who?
I started the branch in the Midwest 7 years ago. Megan Barker started the organization originally in Florida

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Costumers With A Cause or CAUSEplay in general?
I have always supported and participated in charity events. I attended a Breast Cancer event that the 501st Midwest Garrison was at. I thought “hey, I am a costumer, I can do that too” My very next event I came dressed as Wolverine. I was friends with Megan in Florida where The CWC was created, and I asked her if I could use the group name in Chicago for Charity events and she happily agreed. I attended charity events in costume for the first 2 years by myself, but as my costuming family grew, I met several good hearted, like minded individuals. Now, we average 20 people in costume at every event we are able to attend,
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Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good? And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status?
We do not currently have a 501(c)3, but we are actively looking into acquiring one. I do consider us a charity, as every single member is a volunteer and donates time, money and travel expenses to help raise money for any charity event we attend.

How can someone join Costumers With A Cause?
Contact us through the E-mail on our webpage, or contact us through Facebook.
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What type of costumes do you accept?
We accept any costumer who has a giving heart, and someone who works well and is non judgemental of others.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
Many of our members make their own costumes, myself included. Everyone in our group is helpful and friendly, and willing to help anyone getting into costuming with advice and many will even give their time to help others with making costumes.

How many people are currently in your group?
Our private facebook page has over 600 members, but perhaps only about 200 of them are active costumers in our Midwest area organization.
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How is the leadership determined?
Although, right now, I am the Midwest Regional President. I organize most of our events, but I rely heavily on other members of the group who are very active in the charity work. I could never continue to do this all by myself. Truly, we are a giant team and we are all responsible for making our midwest group successful

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
I believe we have participated in almost every type of charity Fundraiser, We have done Hospital visit, and parades.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We have always attended events that were close to our members hearts, other events have been by request. However, this year we are hosting our first ever event. We are hosting a 1.5 mile walk fundraiser for St Jude childrens hospital. The event is April 3rd at the Volo Auto Museum in Mchenry Illinois
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How did you build you “clientele”?
Social Media and we have gotten several requests to appear after attending Parades in several towns.

Do you have particular organization or cause you work with regularity?
Not really, we have worked with all of the Childrens Hospitals in the Chicago Area, we have attended events for MS, MD, Breast Cancer, Children’s Leukemia, ALS, Autism, and many more.
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How much money has the Costumers With A Cause raised for the organization it works with?
I honestly have never kept track. Anytime we do an event we set up a donation page with that specific charity. Since we are not a 501(c)3 we do not accept donations ourselves, so we always ask that donations be made directly to the charity we are volunteering for at the time.

What is the most amazing thing Costumers With A Cause has accomplished so far?
The Happiness I see when we are at events is beyond anything I could describe. Both in Adults and Children.
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Where do you see Costumers With A Cause going in the future?
I am hoping we can continue to grow nationwide. Definitely hope to become a 501(c)3, and continue to move forward with hosting our own events, as well as continue to attend the events we already do.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
It is tough, it is a lot of work, but if your heart is in the right place, you can do it and you will be surprised to find all of the people in your areas wanting to join you.

What future events do you have?
May 3rd : MS Walk in Naperville Illinois. For more info click here.
May 9th : Tough Mudder Chicago.
May 16th : Muscular Dystrophy Walk at Catigny Park. For more info click here.
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CostumersWithACause

Website: http://www.costumerswithacause.org/

Twitter: @MidwestCWC

Email: costumerswithacause@gmail.com

Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Scott Whipple

Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Matthew Rzepka

​​Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Anthony Vernon AKA Pally Kashra
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Heroes Behind the Masks: Superhero Smiles Initiative

This weeks feature is about a couple in Florida who CAUSEplays together! From conversations I have had between it being only two people of the Superhero Smile Initiative they keep pretty busy. Especially around the holiday season. They were kind enough to take some time out of their busy lives to be featured in this weeks blog! Please enjoy this feature of the Heroes Behind the Masks-Mala

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Name: Samantha and Steve Lustinia AKA  Superhero Smiles Initiative

Location: Central Florida

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
We wanted to give back to our community in a way that brought smiles.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
The joy and smiles we see.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
A Christmas party at the Howard Phillips Center for Families

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Samantha- Wonder Woman-because she is a strong female role model.
Steve- Captain America- because he is an iconic good guy male role model.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:
Samantha- recently having a cancer patient spend nearly her entire evening with me.
Steve- a young special needs boy spent an afternoon with Captain America, looking for bad guys.

What is your favorite cause to support? Childhood Cancer

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause? Danced with the kids in full costume.

Who inspires you? Lynda Carter

Advice for CAUSEplaying: Get the word out there that you do this as a gift, no fees involved.
Some people are under the mistaken belief that you will charge them for an appearance.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up? We just finished the holiday season, which was non-stop for 3 months straight.  We are currently taking a break until spring.  We will have a children’s homelessness event in March.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer? Either- it doesn’t define who we are as people

What was your first costume/cosplay? Wonder Woman and Captain America

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What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
Samantha- I work for a not for profit medical clinic
Steve- Product Specialist at Lowe’s

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
Samantha- working with kids.  I love to see them learning.

Tell us something random about yourself:
Samantha- I love to crochet!
Steve- I am an art graduate

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars

Marvel or DC: Marvel

Favorite Comic Series:
Samantha – Wonder Woman and Justice League.
Steve- Currently Guardians of the Galaxy

Favorite Comic Character: Wonder Woman and Captain America

Favorite Book: too many to list

Favorite Video Game: We play old school Dreamcast games

Favorite Convention:  Used to be Megacon but its gotten out of hand.  We really enjoy the charity work more.

Facebook: Superhero Smiles Initiative

Twitter: superherosmiles

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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!