In the original “Star Wars,” Mark Hamill infiltrated the Death Star disguised as a Stormtrooper on a mission to save Princess Leia. Earlier this month, Hamill donned the uniform on a different mission: to collect donations for the charity, Star Wars: Force for Change.
Hamill stood on Hollywood Boulevard in full Stormtrooper garb to advertise one of a number of contests for the charity. He asked people to tell him their favorite Star Wars character and told them about a raffle that offered the chance to attend the grand premier and after party in either London or Los Angeles. When one man told him his favorite character is Luke Skywalker, Hamill gave him a high five.
Launched in May 2014 by The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm, Star Wars: Force for Change was established to support UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Since then it has expanded to 15 different charities, each nominated by members of the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Actress Lupito Nyong’o chose the Africa Cancer Foundation, for example, while director J.J. Abrams sponsored the Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to improving education for girls.
Star Wars: Force for Change raises money through auctions and contests held online. Auctions feature a variety of Star Wars memorabilia. Contests offer chances to win rare opportunities to either be in a film, or attend an advance screening and meet cast members.
What’s impressive about Star Wars: Force for Change is the amount of effort put in by the staff to grow the drive. New contests, auctions, charities and videos have continually been added since May 2014. The original contest ended in August 2014, raising over $4 million.
As of November 2015, Star Wars: Force for Change has raised over $7 million, even before announcing the final contest. People from more than 119 countries donated. Even though the last contest closed on Dec. 9, the cast continues to participate in events for charity.
On Dec. 15, Mark Hamill made a surprise visit to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, accompanied by Stormtroopers, R2-D2 and Darth Vader. They signed autographs, posed for photos and even engaged in light saber duels with the kids. The hospital posted photos of the event on their Facebook page with the hashtag, #ForceForChange.