Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Dudley tops $2,200 mark for Sun Theatre improvements

If you think kids these days are self absorbed in playing video games and texting friends, think again.

Many from Dudley Elementary are ridding yards of walnuts, stepping up household chores and thinking of other ways to raise money for a digital projector for the Sun Theatre.

A band of sixth-grade girls circled Lake Helen several times Saturday to raise money while a fifth grader asked for donations for the projector instead of birthday presents.

Since the elementary kicked off a “Dimes for Digital” campaign two weeks ago, students have raised $2,217.

The realization that Gothenburg will lose its only theatre, without a digital projector, is the driving force behind the campaign, according to a handful of fifth graders.

All new movie releases will become digital in a couple of years and the 35-millimeter film the theater uses now will become obsolete.

The Gothenburg Community Playhouse is hoping to raise at least $100,000 to buy a projector and drop-down screen.

Music teacher Ernie Blecha, who is also a playhouse board member, suggested the campaign at Dudley so youngsters could take ownership in the project.

The class that raises the most money will be treated to a free movie with popcorn and pop.

Several fifth graders were interviewed about the project.

Lauren Johnson said she’s been motivated because “everybody loves watching movies at the theatre.”

Johnson noted that Gothenburg’s theatre, operated by volunteer help on weekend nights, is the only place to watch movies between North Platte and Kearney.

“I don’t like to drive all the way to North Platte to see a movie,” Max Jinks said.

Blecha noted that Arnold’s theatre recently bought a digital projector with a $75,000 individual donation.

Ryan Healey asked for donations for the projector, instead of gifts for his birthday, and raised about $200 he plans to give to the campaign.

“I got the idea from my brother who had done it to raise money for the earthquake victims in Haiti,” Healey explained. “I thought it was a good time for the theatre to be getting a new projector so I’d have a good thing to donate to.”

Healey added that it feels good to donate money “because it feels like we’re doing a good thing for the community.”

Johnson said she’s earned money for the project by doing household chores and working at the local veterinary clinic.

Taylor Wenger said she’s donated money she received while helping her grandma in her yard while Jill Smith has picked up fallen walnuts from trees on her block.

Max Jinks said he and his brother are saving money to buy an Xbox video game and plan to donate leftover funds to the projector campaign.

Last Saturday afternoon, eight sixth grade girls spent about two hours walking around Lake Helen.

Emma Jorgenson said she remembered how students raised money in fifth grade to go to Halsey and thought it would work for the “Dimes for Digital” campaign.

Jorgenson called friends to participate, created pledge sheets and got relatives and others to donate.

The girls walked for about two hours and raised about $400.

One of the walkers, Ali Bartels, said “it made us feel really good.”

“Even if we don’t win (by raising the most money), we want the movie theatre to stay open because that’s going to benefit us all,” Bartels said.

During the walk, she said a man walking his dog asked the girls what they were doing.

“He gave us $10 and said he liked seeing people in the community step up and do what we believe in,” Bartels said.

The movie theatre, she said, is one of the few things kids can do for entertainment on weekends.

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