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Volunteers dress up as Ghostbusters characters to do good

Combining their love of the classic comedy, volunteer groups from all over North America are performing public services while donning nuclear-powered Ghostbuster backpacks. Interestingly, even though they share a common passion for the iconic film and for fundraising, each of these Ghostbuster charity groups is run separately.

Appearing in schools and hospitals, these paranormal investigators are using their superpowers to volunteer and raise funds for numerous charities all over North America.

Cosplay — better known as grown-up costume dress up — doesn’t seem to be the primary reason these grown-ups are loading up their P.K.E. Meters and Proton Packs. Sure, fighting paranormal poltergeists is fun, but the real pleasure seems to be in giving back.

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The New York Ghostbusters branch recently raised donations to equip elementary school science labs through events like their marshmallow blaster target game and “Slime Lab.” Their first project: teaching kids about cross-linked polymers, also known as “slime.”

The New York group isn’t alone in wanting to have fun while giving back to their community — other Ghostbuster fan groups from North America and Europe don the uniforms to perform charitable service. Here in Canada, the Ontario branch is very involved in local fundraising events. Adriana Munoz, Ontario’s first official female Ghostbuster gets to “suit up” around 12 times per year to attend various events.

Her Ghostbusting time is split between expos and charities (but even the expos they attend are used to raise awareness and funds for charity). They also get to meet some of the recipients. “We have been very fortunate to meet some of the people we support. One previous event allowed us to go to the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton; we were able to talk to and meet some of the kids there once we presented them with a donation of board games, gift cards and iPads to help make their stay a bit more enjoyable,” Munoz told us.

Like the NYC organization, the Ontario group has even attended schools (some of their members are actually teachers). For Munoz, one of the most rewarding in-class events was held in Vineland, Ontario, where they had the opportunity to speak out against bullying, and then proceeded to do some Ghostbusters “science” later in one of the classrooms. That the event was held on a designated anti-bullying day seems fitting and in keeping with the spirit of their goals.

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In a recent article in Man’s Life, featuring the New York chapter, the author addresses the draw many people feel towards Ghostbusters: “To be a Ghostbuster does not take superpowers. The patches these real-life busters wear bear their own names, not the characters from the film. And maybe that’s what makes the fandom so unique. They aren’t role-playing as Han Solo or Spock. They’re being themselves. And maybe it’s the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie that’s struck a chord with so many of them and made the film a force for good in the world.”

“It’s silly, but when you have a kid who’s afraid of monsters or the bully teasing them, if they can look at us and see this 35-year-old guy dressed as a Ghostbuster they say, ‘Then hey, so can I,'” says Cudworth in the Man’s Life article. “Don’t be afraid of who you are or what you’re doing.”

And of course, “Don’t be afraid of no ghosts.”

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