Smith, whose theater is in small town Kingston, Washington, recently spoke with CBS’s Lee Cowan about movies and how, 10-years ago, he used his life savings to turn a firehouse into a two-screen cinema.
It was the only one in town.
He ran it almost entirely by himself, running up credit cards and foregoing a paycheck to keep the place going. Then, one day while he was in the projection booth, he collapsed from a heart attack.
But his loyal patrons set up a a GoFundMe page to save the old theater and help their friend.
By the time of the airing of Cowan’s report, the page had raised $6,000. Then, in a classic plot twist, not 90-minutes after the report, CBS viewers donated thousands of dollars. Soon, the fund was at $100,000.
A few days later, the fund topped $182,000 from thousands of donors from around the world. Most of the donations were the amount of a couple of movie tickets.
Here’s the story from CBS Sunday Morning:
And the donor comments are so dear.
One donor wrote,
“Watched your beautiful story on YouTube. Loved the exchange of community love you all have.
I’m on a fixed income, from southern California but wanted to help still.
Much Love from Sunny California.”
“I donated because i was watching CBS this morning and i TRULY APPRECIATE the nostalgia of the theater and the HARD WORK that Craig is doing.
It’s like the scene from Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey sees the townspeople of Bedford Falls rally to help his failed savings and loan. The funds raised are nearing a quarter of a million dollars.
It is definitely a wonderful life when you think you have nothing, only to find out you’re surrounded by angels.