City Life

Use the Force... and Give Blood

Before you see the new Star Wars movie, consider donating a pint of blood.

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On December 18, the unthinkable is happening; a new Star Wars film will he dropping out of hyperspace and into theaters everywhere. Depending on how it shakes out, fans might feel inclined to spill some blood, but it might be better for everyone if they just donated it.

During the week leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Rhode Island Blood Center will be decking their Providence and Warwick locations out with Star Wars everything. Life-sized cutouts will he waiting with juice and cookies for donors, and anyone who gives will be entered to win a movie theater prize pack which will include movie tickets popcorn and sodas for two.

“We hope donors inspire others to ‘Use the Force’ for good by donating blood and saving lives with us,” says Kara LeBlanc of the Rhode Island Blood Center.

This is not the first time the Blood Center has partnered with the Rebel Alliance. In recent years, Providence-based author Ryder Windham – whose work within the Star Wars universe has included comic books for Dark Horse, film novelizations, technical manuals and visual guides – has made an effort to use his connection to the Star Wars franchise to encourage the community to give blood. To help him in this mission, he’s drafted local costuming groups like the 501st New England Garrison (dressed as the bad guys) and Alderaan Base (the good guys).

“The costumers are amazingly talented, and many of them jump at opportunities to do volunteer work for charities. I wanted to follow their lead,” says Ryder. “I proposed we promote an event that we called the Star Wars Party and Blood Drive. The Rhode Island Blood Center had been hoping to collect at least 7 units of blood, and they collected 30.”

Since that first drive at the Providence Library in 2010, Ryder and the local Star Wars costuming community have continued to work along with the Rhode Island Blood Center on donation events. Ryder’s also collaborated on the international World Blood Drive, which has reached fans in over 20 countries.

To date, Ryder has given 80 pints to the Rhode Island Blood Center – that’s 10 gallons or just a little bit over a whole Jawa worth of blood. “I consider it my civic duty to not only give blood but to encourage others to do the same if they can,” he says.

The costuming community won’t be appearing at the Blood Center's collection events in the days before Episode VII, but when it comes to giving blood the real heroes aren’t Wookiees and Jedi, but regular Joes who take time to help those in need.

“We need to collect over 200 units of blood every single day in Rhode Island,” says Kara. “There are always people who need blood, no matter what time of year.”