by Lisa Tome
Chris Bancells would like to set the record straight.
He doesn't live in his parent's basement.
Bancells, 35, the school librarian at Cherry Hill Middle School, has a sideline that might lead people to believe that he's a little different. His job already makes him slightly unique because he's one of only two males media specialists in all of Cecil County Public Schools.
"In this profession, there's not a lot of guys," said Bancells. "I really love books. Stories have the ability to change lives. Stories have helped me through good times and bad times," he said.
He was formerly a high school English teacher. "School libraries can do a lot that you can't do in a classroom. I work with the whole building and that's a lot of fun." he said.
But, for more than a year he has been a member of the 501st Legion, the "World's Definitive Imperial Costuming Organization".
That group of volunteers help charities and promotes literacy all while wearing costumes from the various Star Wars movies. Bancells costume includes a red helmet, cape, and hidden microphone which allows him to portray a Royal Guard from "Return of the Jedi".
"We use our love of Star Wars to make people smile," said Bancells. The way the 501st Legion works is that members turn out in costume at events. It could be a benefit for a child facing chemotherapy or something to promote literacy. The legion supports Make a Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and other organizations.
"We have lawyers as members and all kinds of people. We all work together. I enjoy doing it and we use it to help people," he said.
Recently, he made his first Cecil County appearance in his Star Wars attire. He was one of the performers at the Starwarigami event at Rising Sun High School.
He said he chose the character that he did because he liked the look of the costume. "The cost varies. We strive for screen accuracy," he said. He also said that the 501st Legion posts events and members communicate to make sure two Darth Vadars don't show up at the same fundraiser.
And while he enjoys the events he does now, Bancells will soon expand his reach. His five-year-old child will soon be turning out in costume.