The idea of spending an entire day sitting outside of a movie theatre, dressed up as a Star Wars character, watching the entire trilogy courtesy of the world’s longest extension cord may not sound terribly fun to most people. To the Young Jedis of Niagara, however, such an activity sounds like an excellent way to spend a weekend. In fact it was just such an activity that caused one of Niagara’s newest and most unique service clubs, to come together.
The idea for the club came to Chris Leigh, Jedi president and founder, after spending hours in line with fellow Star Wars fans for tickets to Episode I. Leigh realized that there was a connection between Stars Wars fans. He thought that this connection could become a force for good in the greater community.
The club was founded on Jan. 1, 2001, and since then the Young Jedis have raised over $1,000 from raffles and business donations for Women’s Place of St. Catharines, a shelter for battered women.
“We aren’t just a bunch of geeks talking about Star Wars,” says Leigh. “I always wanted to do something for charity, but I didn’t know what to base it around.”
Costumes are central to the Jedi’s fund-raising efforts. Each member has a “club identity,” which is the character they dress up as for official fund-raising events. Leigh’s “identity” is Obi Won Kenobi.
“Lori Raimondo is the mother of three of our members. She is our club costumer,” says Leigh.
Although the Jedis range in age from 10 to well into their 40s, most of the club’s members are in their teens and 20s. The youngest member dresses up as pod-racer Annakin Skywalker for fund-raising events.
The club has already started organizing fund-raisers around the release of Episode II, which will be released across North America, including at the Pen Centre, on May 16. The Jedis plan to organize a Star Wars costume contest, and will have a large tent set up for fans who are camping out for tickets. They will also be selling food to the hungry fans.
This unique club has received many positive responses from both the science fiction and St. Catharines communities. Members attended a sci-fi convention held in Toronto this past August and received the Best Group award, and won a similar award for their participation in the 2001 Grape and Wine Parade.