This was the second year we did this, and since my home chapter was involved...it really hit home for me.
One of our big things in Mando Mercs is our "Help a Verd'ika" christmas. Basically, it's a fund we created for children in underprivileged families who won't be getting a christmas. We decided that each year we would pick a chapter to receive the fund so that they could use it to adopt a family in their local area for Christmas. Mandos are very centered around families, so what better way for us as the costume group for mandos to better take part in helping our communities.
Last year we raised $250 for a couple young boys in Ohio (we only had maybe 75 members at the time), well this year we raised $750 for 3 children here in North Carolina. Between losing jobs, house burning down, and cancer taking one of the grandparents who had been helping them get back on their feet, I don't think you could have asked for a much worse year.
So we took that $750, and at the parents request we spent it all on the kids. They are getting everything they asked for this christmas, from an Xbox 360 to Stand Up Elmo...it took us 5 trips to get all this stuff outta my van.
What really struck me at the end of it all was the family themselves. We were about to leave, and the husband stopped me. He himself was a huge Star Wars fan, and before their house burnt down in July he had kept a huge collection of Star Wars collectables and toys. The one thing that escaped the fire was his collector's edition Phantom Menace DVD ...still in the box with the wrapper on it untouched. The price sticker still on it but grayed out by the smoke from the fire. He handed it to me and asked me to use that for the next family, that he didn't need it and he wanted it to help someone like we have helped them. It's hard to sit here and type this without my eyes getting a little wet...because to give something when you have nothing is IMHO the greatest thing you can do in your life.
So I took it, and I told him that my personal goal for 2009 is to have every major actor who stared in Phantom Menace sign the thing so we can auction/raffle it off for the next family. I think thats the least I can do for someone so willing to do that.
I just wanna take a moment and thank all of you guys and gals who troop for charity and causes that help people. We all have reasons why we troop and attend events...it's not always about the armor.
So thats my inspirational story for 2008. Hopefully that chears some people up a bit.
Oh, and here is the "table of toys" as I called it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.