Funding it together

As one fundraiser for the Webster Theater wraps up, a couple more are being planned.

Jeff Pingel and Deb Brown, both members of the Help Entertain and Restore Organization committee, were on hand to accept a check for $4,708.15 from Webster City Federal Savings Bank. The bank hosted a week-long fundraiser, accepting freewill donations and selling packs of snacks to bring in money for theater renovations. Funds raised during the drive were matched by the bank.

“The employees set it up, and that just blows me away,” Brown said. “They all worked together on it and we were looking for a place where people could come and bring their change in and give $5 or $10 and feel like they’re part of it and this was a perfect fit.”

Pingel said the drive opened the door for other businesses to host fundraisers. Another local business, Seneca Foundry, bought each of their employees one of the movie packs one sale during Webster City Federal’s drive. The foundry also bought those packs for $10 apiece instead of the $6 they were listed for.

In another ongoing fundraiser, Brown said that 65 of the 300 seats in the Webster Theater have been sold. Pingel attributed the continuing success of the fundraiser, which allows donors to buy a metal ticket to place with a message on one seat in the theater, to ongoing public promotion through drives like the one at Webster City Federal.

One of the groups that purchased a seat was the city council of Stanhope. Pingel said he has been reaching out to communities around Hamilton County to help in the effort to reopen the Webster Theater. So far, both Stanhope and Kamrar have agreed to help with promotion efforts.

“It’s a county wide effort, just not a Webster City effort,” Pingel said.

Brown added, “It’s the only movie theater in the county.”

Pingel said he’s looking to reach out to other communities in the county who are interested in contributing to the project or help promote it. He can be reached at 297-3776.

Volunteers and HERO committee members will be busy soon to prepare for another fundraiser. On Wednesday, the group will hold a poster sale from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the theater lobby. Over the years, the theater has accrued many promotional posters and cardboard displays which have mainly been stored in the building’s basement. Brown expects the posters will cost between $5 and $20 each. From a standing “Wall-E” cardboard cutout to a poster for the film “2012” which stands over 10 feet tall, Brown said there are some cool items that will be on sale Wednesday.

The poster sale will mark the 75th anniversary of the theater’s grand opening. On Feb. 19, 1939, a newly renovated theater was opened with the showing of the film “Jesse James.” It was on that date that the movie house was first called the Webster Theater.

An online fundraising campaign for HERO’s theater project is also coming soon. Brown said the drive, which will be hosted on the Indiegogo website, is set to begin on Feb. 21. The site, which allows projects to be funded through many individual donations, gives back to those who donate.

“When you donate with Indiegogo, the person or group you’re donating to provides a perk. So, we’ll have movie tickets and seats, T-shirts, popcorn, there’s all different levels of donations,” Brown said.

The online drive and more news will be posted on the theater’s recently launched website. At, Pingel said there are a variety of resources for those interested in HERO’s project to save the theater. Everything from the group’s business plan, the history of the theater, news and updates and an online link to donate to the project can be found on the website. More information can also be found at