Darth Vader, Stormtroopers join for ‘greater good’ in Everett

EVERETT — “Star Wars” fans aren’t only passionate; they can be pretty generous, too.

Evidence of that could be found Saturday during the fifth annual Star Wars-themed food drive at the BobaKhan Toy Store in Everett.

In a new location in a bigger building and just a few days before Thursday night’s release of the first Star Wars movie in a decade, canned good donations poured in Saturday afternoon for the chance to take photos next to volunteers dressed as favorite characters.

Within 45 minutes, more than 1,000 pounds of food had been collected. Roughly 2,000 pounds were gathered during the four-hour event. Last year drew 608 pounds altogether.

“Sometimes things line up and create a perfect storm,” said Alan Chase, development manager for Volunteers of America Western Washington. “I’m just humbled by the generosity of the people within the Everett community.”

The event was a family affair for the Ides of Bothell.

Nathan Ide carried Leander, 4, in his arms, and Bastian, 1, in a backpack, while his wife, daughter and older son explored the store.

Leander, dressed in black as Darth Vader, buried his head in his dad’s shoulder after encountering a much bigger Darth Vader who towered over him. Leander’s brother, Sampson, 6, also dressed as Darth Vader, seemed quite comfortable among the cast of tall characters in imposing costumes.

Nathan Ide grew up with the Star Wars movies, toys and bed sheets.

His family once visited Disney World for a Star Wars-themed weekend and now he’s eager for the movie to come out to share with his family. Star Wars was the first movie he ever saw in a theater.

“I’m excited that they get a chance to see it on the big screen,” he said.

Anthony Brown of Marysville took roughly a dozen photos of his son, Matthew, alongside different characters.

They’ll be going to the movie Friday. Before then, they’ll be watch older Star Wars movies to reconnect with story lines.

“Just me and him,” Brown said. “I can’t wait.”

Tony Carnevale, 23, was dressed in the white armor of a stormtrooper and occupied an aisle at BobaKhan Saturday. He seemed to be as popular when it came to photo ops as Santa Claus who greeted families at the front of the store.

Carnevale, 23, is a member of the Garrison Titan Vader’s 501st Legion, which dresses up for charity events across the Puget Sound region.

The Everett man has tickets for himself, his girlfriend, his dad and his brother to see the first showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Thursday night at Alderwood. Knowing it would immensely competitive, he and his girlfriend had five electronic devices at the ready when tickets went on sale.

It felt a bit like winning the lottery.

Carnevale said he likes Star Wars on many levels. He started watching it at his grandfather’s house when he was young and sees it transcending generations. He also said it includes some of his favorite genres: action movie, love story, science fiction and even soap opera.

He said he would classify himself as a “super fan.” He readily acknowledges tearing up after meeting actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy, at a Star Wars convention.

He was more than happy to spend part of his day off Saturday sweating beneath the stormtrooper costume.

He knows some people don’t understand his passion, but he wears it with pride.

“People call us nerds, but we are doing this for the greater good,” he said, peering through the dark slits of his white helmet. “It puts food in those containers and that feels good.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3466; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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