For members of the 501st and Rebel Legions, membership means celebrating Star Wars and contributing to local community and charitable causes. Virtually every week somewhere in the world, an event featuring members dressed as characters from the Galactic Empire or the Old Republic or the Rebel Alliance may be found helping out their neighbors and bringing smiles to everyone they encounter.
Among the many important events Legion members are asked to help out at worldwide, some of the most significant are supporting those who are far from home, and for whom a connection to family and friends is paramount. With this vital mission in mind, members of the 501st and Rebel Legions recently turned out in Van Nuys, California in support of Operation Gratitude, a volunteer effort to provide care packages to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines stationed far away from home, their children, those wounded in the line of duty, and local community first responders.
On a warm day with sunny skies, Operation Gratitude volunteers, including veterans and family members of active service members as well as local community supporters and a large contingent of Disney volunteers, all came together to dedicate their time to service members on deployment, when Darth Vader and an escort surprised everyone with a personal appearance to show support for their efforts.
Of course, after Star Wars characters entered the base and Lord Vader checked on everyone’s progress, a few pictures with the volunteers were in order before it was time to get back to work and ensure that care packages continued to roll off the assembly line, destined for someone in need of a touch of home and a heartfelt thank you.
The volunteers, including Lord Vader and his friends, all pitched in as Operation Gratitude continued to march forward to its goal of supplying an astounding one million care packages!
Working together with so many dedicated volunteers is all in a day’s work for Legion members, but is especially important at events like this, where Legion members paused to remember the sacrifices of so many.
With members of the 501st and Rebel Legion continuing to bring smiles and share their celebration of Star Wars wherever they can — whether in hospitals, at community events, or helping the less fortunate and those far away from home — each adventure means another opportunity to help support our neighbors and communities as only Star Wars fans can!
Lawrence Green wanted to be a Stormtrooper or Luke Skywalker when he first saw Star Wars. Now, he’s both, as a member of the 501st and Rebel Legions. Designated by 501st founder Albin Johnson at the 2007 Rose Parade as “the 501st’s own Jedi Luke”, Lawrence is the executive officer and public/media relations officer of the 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison. You can follow his personal tweets @Lawrence_Green and find the SoCal Garrison at www.southerncaliforniagarrison.com and @501SCG.