Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Star Wars Fans Collect Donations for Community

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Star Wars Fans Collect Donations for Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhonda Reese

They call themselves the bad guys with the good hearts.

That was obvious when squad seven of the Florida Garrison of the 501st Legion, a group that promotes the love of Star Wars movies along with doing lots of charity work, hung out at Party City Oct. 17 to collect food for the Mandarin Food Bank.

Terry Sorge, manager at Party City on San Jose Boulevard (a stormtrooper in his other life) joined with friends Mike Johnson and Alex Sawyer (sandtroopers), Robert Trotman (Imperial guard member), Timothy Boyle (biker scout), Robert Wojczyk and J.P. Fouchey (stormtroopers) and Ray Whaley (TIE fighter pilot) brought smiles, requests for photographs and even a few screams as they milled about in full costume guarding grocery carts full of goodies for people in need.

"Hey, where's your donation?" Darth Vader asked a passerby.

When the man said he didn't have anything, a stormtrooper offered a suggestion.

"There's a grocery store across the street. Go get something," he said in a raspy voice.

Vader, played by the 6-foot, 4-inch Michael Joiner, said he has enjoyed being a part of the 501st Legion because of the opportunities for service and the fun of giving back to the community.

"I knew the first time I saw this group trooping it that I wanted in," Joiner said.

Sorge, who said he saw his first Star Wars movie at age 5, added that being part of the group involves a commitment of time and money. Each member supplies his or her own costume, which must be accurate to the Lucas films. Characters also appear at many charitable events throughout the year.

Sorge said people involved are like living models, often purchasing their costumes as a kit to put together.

"I'm really glad that Dana Zaifert, owner of Party City, allowed us to do this tonight," Sorge said of the food drive. Sorge also said he was glad to have Don McNally of Stylin Hair Salon join in the effort with his employees. …

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