Teen organizes free Christmas showing

FAIRMONT – A year ago, Isaac Landsteiner was striving to earn his Eagle Scout badge as a member of the Boy Scouts of America. As part of this process, he organized a trio of free showings of a classic holiday movie at the Fairmont Opera House, requesting only free-will donations of money or food items for a local food shelf.

Landsteiner, who has since earned the badge and, after turning 18 last summer, “retired” from the Scouting program, is exhibiting the true holiday spirit of giving by repeating the project.

Showtimes for “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Sunday. Although there is no admission charge, donations of money or nonperishable food items will be collected for the Heaven’s Table Food Shelf in Fairmont.

“I had been thinking about the possibility of doing it again, and it seemed kind of selfish not to do it again,” Landsteiner said.

Last year was a learning experience for him. In order to show a movie legally, a one-day license and a DVD are the only things needed. Internet research revealed a company that would provide a DVD of the movie and the proper licensure, costing Landsteiner about $320 in 2012.

He admits he “was in a bit of a panic” a couple of weeks ago when he learned that the company was no longer in operation, but another web search located Criterion USA.

“They do it for $50 cheaper,” Landsteiner said.

That savings will be absorbed by other costs he is facing.

“Last year, the Fairmont Opera House was generous enough to donate the rent of the facility for that day. That’s normally $500,” he said. “This year the Opera House won’t be able to donate the rent.”

About 200 people attended the showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2012, garnering 357 pounds of food and $585 for Heaven’s Table.

“It (attendance) was less than I thought, but people were generous,” Landsteiner said. “I was really pleased with the results.”

Landsteiner, is employed at Hy-Vee and volunteers at Heaven’s Table. As senior, he is home schooled, but also takes classes at Fairmont High School and college-level courses He hopes to attend college some day, finances permitting.

With college possibly looming in his future, this will be the last year Landsteiner said he will sponsor the yuletide movie, but he would like to pass on the project to another philanthropic individual or group.

“I’ve taken detailed notes that I can give somebody,” he said. “If a 17-year-old junior in high school can figure it out by himself, most people can do it.”