It's an Eagle Scout project that strays from the norm, an opportunity for the community to gather together, watch a movie and work collectively to help their own.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is about just that type of thing, a community working together to help the kind-hearted, down-on-his-luck George Bailey. Which is why Boy Scout Isaac Landsteiner thought it would be an appropriate film to boost people's spirits and help raise funds for Heaven's Table Food Shelf in Fairmont.
Landsteiner, 17, has grown up watching the film each Christmas season with his family. It's a tradition he'd like to share with others this year through three showings at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 23 at Fairmont Opera House. No admission will be taken, but nonperishable food items or monetary donations will be accepted for the food shelf.
Isaac Landsteiner poses for a photo in his Boy Scout shirt across the street from Fairmont Opera House, where he has put together three Dec. 23 showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a fund-raiser for Heaven’s Table Food Shelf.
"I think sometimes we have the mindset that poverty is not here," Landsteiner said, but he has seen otherwise in the time he has spent volunteering at Heaven's Table.
The stories vary on why people need food, but unexpected expenses is one common reason.
"Maybe they have a huge medical bill they were not expecting," he said, "or maybe the mother was working and she was diagnosed with cancer."
Landsteiner began helping at Heaven's Table in order to fulfill the requirements for a Boy Scout rank he was working toward. He could see the community responding to the food shelf's pleas for help, but he could also anticipate the need increasing as more people learned about the service Heaven's Table was providing.
He was brainstorming ideas for his Eagle Scout project when he read an article in the newspaper about local hunger that helped finalize his decision to do something to benefit Heaven's Table. After deciding on a movie showing and selecting the film, Landsteiner began working on licensing.
"I contacted MPLC, a movie licensing company, and they said no," he said.
But they did give him contact information for Swank Motion Pictures, which helped him obtain the legal rights to show the film for one day.
None of this would be happening if Landsteiner hadn't decided just two and a half years ago that he wanted to join Boy Scouts again. He had been in the organization as a Tenderfoot, the lowest rank, when he had dropped out.
"I was looking at Boy Scouts and everything it stands for," he said. "If everyone who's considered important ... if they lived by the Boy Scout oath, just think how much better the world would be."
For anyone unfamiliar with the pledge, the Boy Scout Oath reads: "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Under the Boy Scout Law, a Scout is to strive to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
"Any organization that's working to promote that I thought would be good to be involved in," Landsteiner said.
But to come as far as he has today as a Scout, he did a lot of catching up in a short period of time. He started at the lowest rank; Eagle Scout is the highest, and meeting the requirements of the ranking is time-consuming and intended to be challenging.
Becoming an Eagle Scout was a goal Landsteiner did not think possible when he joined Scouts again as a teenager, something he didn't even see as a feasible goal, not until he passed the Boy Scout swim test.
"That was possibly the biggest challenge," he said. "... It's not tough, but I'm not a great swimmer.
"When I passed the test, I was suddenly presented with this new option, and I decided at least I could try."
In addition to the work he has done to achieve the Eagle Scout ranking, Landsteiner is working on completing his associate degree, a task he hopes to accomplish in time to receive his high school diploma. He is taking seven credits this semester through college courses available at Southern Minnesota Education Campus in Fairmont, and needs 40 to achieve his goal.
Landsteiner is home-schooled and lives on an acreage outside Fairmont. He belongs to Boy Scout Troop 56.