JediOKC, Oklahoma’s largest Star Wars fan group with approximately 250 members, will hold its second biannual charity Bingo Night on Saturday to benefit child-care programs at Integris Mental Health Center in Spencer.
The event will include prizes donated by local restaurants, retail outlets and club members. The group of Jedi faithful got its start 12 years ago when some likeminded Star Wars fans found each other online and met in person to discuss the movies and related hobbies, such as collecting and costuming.
JediOKC began regular get-togethers and attending Star Wars conventions.
Eventually, a desire emerged to put their fandom to use in more civicminded ways.
“Going to conventions just wasn’t cutting it anymore. We felt like we should be doing more with the community, so we started looking at working with local charities,” said Rick Young, public relations and booking coordinator for JediOKC.
The beneficiary of Saturday’s fundraiser is also the first organization JediOKC worked with. The partnership began nine years ago with a now-annual Halloween party in which costumed performers distribute candy and take photos with the hospital’s pediatric patients.
JediOKC currently is raising money to purchase drums to be used in a therapeutic drum circle.
“[The hospital] didn’t have money to purchase them, so we took it upon ourselves to raise it,” said Young.
Because the Spencer facility is a mental-health hospital for children, Young said, the kids don’t always get the attention from the community they deserve.
“Because they aren’t physically ill, there’s a perception that they don’t need help, but that is so far from the truth,” he said.
His favorite event for the hospital is actually a noncostumed gathering: an ice cream social Young started four years ago when some of the facility’s funding was cut.
JediOKC also works with programs that aid children with muscular dystrophy, autism and Down syndrome. The group has held events with the Boy and Girl Scouts, and at public libraries.