Second ‘Give Where You Live’ unites community

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Jazlyn O’Brian of Dubois, 13, reacts as Chris Hansen of Indianapolis asks if she wants to kiss Bubba the African bullfrog during the Silly Safari show at the Astra Theatre in Jasper on Friday. As part of Give Where You Live, events held throughout Jasper on Friday raised funds supporting arts and literacy initiatives. For more Silly Safari photos, click here.


JASPER — Alex Hart of Jasper, 25, remembers growing up near the Jasper Public Library and riding her bike there to check out books. This year, she seized the chance to give back to the key part of her childhood as a performer in Friday’s Very Big Show of Support, the night cap for the Give Where You Live fundraising campaign.

“I’m so excited to give back to the library,” Hart said.

Hart wasn’t the only one ready to give back to the community Friday. People across the city of Jasper came together Friday to raise money in the second annual Give Where You Live campaign to benefit the Jasper Public Library, Jasper Community Arts Commission and Next Act, Inc., the organization that owns and operates The Astra Theatre on the Square.

The fundraising day began last year as part of the Jasper LEADs (library, enrichment, arts and downtown) fundraising campaign spurred by the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center project. After last year’s fundraiser, the committee decided to form outside of LEADs and hold the fundraiser annually to benefit the three organizations.

Aiden Schmitt of Jasper, 5, left, Emma Schroering of St. Anthony, 10, her brother Caleb, 8, and Evan Schmitt of Jasper, 8, raise their hands for the chance to be on stage with Bob the blue-tongued skink during the Silly Safari show on Friday at the Astra Theatre in Jasper. For more Silly Safari photos, click here.

Last year’s spring fundraiser raised about $66,000 to complete renovations on The Astra. This year, the committee switched the day to the fall so local kids would be on break from school and turned their attention toward raising money for programming needs and will divide proceeds evenly amomg the library, JCAC and Next Act.

“Even though (the Cultural Center) isn’t done yet, we’re still doing activities where we are,” said Linda Kahle, chairperson for the Give Where You Live committee and a member of the JCAC board. “We still have needs.”

As of Friday night, the campaign raised about $15,000; however, local businesses that participated had yet to turn in their donations, and online donations at will remain open through today.

Kahle said the event likely won’t earn nearly as much as last year, but committee members weren’t expecting it to. Last year, the hype around all the projects in the community helped fuel the campaign, but this year, the Astra is complete, and there hasn’t been a lot of visible progress on the Cultural Center, aside from the Hoosier Desk building coming down.

Ellis James of Ferdinand, 2, and his grandmother, Connie Matheis of Celestine, watch Chris Hansen of Indianapolis present Foofoo the bunny during the Silly Safari show on Friday at the Astra Theatre in Jasper. "He likes the bunny," Matheis said. "He thinks he's going to see a snake." For more Silly Safari photos, click here.

This year, Kahle said, the committee wanted the event to focus more on celebrating the partnership between the Next Act, JCAC and the library and to draw people out into the community. In that respect, the day met its goal.

“We heard from a lot of people at the Silly Safari show (at the Astra) that it was the first time they’d been in there, and this event gets new people into the Arts Center,” Kahle said before the Very Big Show of Support.

Participating local businesses also saw new customers come in wanting to participate in the fundraiser. Lydia Lagenour, owner of Fire Horse Yoga located on Jasper’s Square, used the studio’s morning yoga class to raise funds for the campaign and said she had two new students attend that day.

“It was a great turn out for us,” Lagenour said. “We got to meet two new people.”

She was excited to participate in Give Where You Live and to give back to the community through her business.

“It’s definitely an exchange of energies, and we appreciate them supporting us in that way.”

Chris Hansen of Indianapolis screams as Chaos the coatimundi hangs from his arm during the Silly Safari show on Friday at the Astra Theatre in Jasper. For more Silly Safari photos, click here.

Catherine Bramlett, owner of Mad Batter, also saw a wave of customers come into her bakery to support Give Where You Live.

This year, Bramlett made pumpkin sugar cookies and donated $1 of each sale to the campaign.

She made seven dozen cookies for the day— more than she made for last year’s event— and was sold-out before noon. While she baked another seven dozen sugar cookies, she and her staff rang other equivalent sales up as sugar cookies so the donations could continue to be counted.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Bramlett said. “When they asked us to participate, it wasn’t even a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ It was an ‘of course.’”

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