Over $2600 was raised during the latest Will Read and Sing for Food event at the historic Astra Theatre in downtown Jasper Thursday night, that was filled with multiple generations of 270 people creating their own memories of attending the Astra Theatre.
It was a family packed event from being greeted by recent social media sensation Libby & Matt Sanders of Jasper, to listening to area middle and high school students read their winning humor essays, to also taking part in saving the iconic theatre with entry donations, as well as hearing the talented Will Read and Sing for Food musicians Kyle Lueken, Debbie Schuetter, The Gatwoods-Megan and Dr. Isaac Gatwood, Marc Steczyk, and Ray Major who were also accompanied by the wittiness and humor of writers Abbie Rumbach, Jillian Becher, Scott Saalman, Brooke Keusch, and Jasper High School Senior Luci Hulsman.
Conquering a theatre auditorium full of people 7th grader Caroline McCance from Jasper Middle School & Drake Siegel a Freshman from Jasper High School, each had their turn to read essays as they were announced the winners of the 2016 Humor Essay Contest out of 142 essays that were submitted.
This essay contest for youth is the first for Will Read and Sing for Food which served as its pilot approach towards involving young humor writers and with its success is anticipated to continue for years to come. Local teachers who were recognized in encouraging students to submit their essays were Kathy Eckerle (Jasper Middle School), Brooke Keusch (Jasper High School) and Rock Emmert (Forest Park).
Libby and Matt Sanders also partnered up with the event as they greeted people and painted Astra patrons pinky fingers for $1. The money they raised for painting pinkies also went towards the overall fundraising for the Astra Theatre. The couple has become a social media world-wide sensation with a picture Libby posted of her hand over her husband’s showing mint colored painted nails. Matt Sanders explained to the Astra audience that he will paint his pinky for the rest of their lives to stand in for Libby’s pinky that is now missing due to an accident with a sliding door. Libby shared that she has been contacted by people all over the world saying she has inspired them. As downtown business owners in Jasper with Libby’s Gourmet Ice Cream, the pair share their vision of downtown activity.
The Sanders’ insight parallels the quality of life and community involvement that the Astra Theatre seeks as well.
Also, between performances last night, Marc Steczyk of Next Act recognized their team and told the audience that the group has submitted their first payment on an endowment from the Dubois Community Foundation, of about $11,000 that will cover the theatre’s utilities for the next year.
A recent contribution has now set the naming rights to the concession area as the Circle A concession stand. Next Act Inc-Chairperson, Leslie Humby says there is still work ahead and described the incentives donors can benefit from based on donor levels that can be found on their website.
They are hopeful that with the community’s contributions they can meet the Office of Community & Rural Affairs Historic Preservation grant that is needs to be matched by June 1st.
Will Read and Sing for Food-Director, Scott Saalman, stated he was please with the donations raised for the Astra Theatre and the efforts the middle and high school students placed on writing the humor essays.Saalman also elaborates on the theatre’s potential as it plans for its continuous existence and future in downtown Jasper.
Thursday night’s Will Read and Sing for Food show marks as show #85 for the non-profit philanthropic organization which also now has reached a total of $65,597 for two dozen charities they have raised money for since October of 2011. Saalman notes that Astra Theatre magic has created success for fundraising initiatives as Thursday’s show was the second highest producer of funds out of all their shows so far. The first show to have raised the most funds also took place at the Astra Theatre two years ago.
For more information on how to contribute to the Astra Theatre visit their website at www.thenextact.org.