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Meet Jason Anderson
Director, Long Term Care, Sanford Health
When the Canby Theater closed its doors in May due to Minnesota’s COVID-19 statewide guidance, community members like Jason Anderson knew there had to be another way to support the theater.
Built in 1939, the 300-seat theater in southern Minnesota is a pillar of main street with a marquee that lights up downtown.
“Since COVID-19, we’ve been trying to find a way to help the theater survive because if we don’t have a community, then I probably don’t have a hospital to work at,” Jason says.
Over the summer, the theater started offering curbside popcorn as a way to generate funds. For $5, people could pick up a large bag of buttery popcorn to enjoy while watching a movie at home.
One night, the vehicle popcorn pickup line grew to be more than three blocks long.
“It was pretty insane to see people wrapped all the way around the building,” Jason describes.
The theater is run mostly by community volunteers with the help of a theater manager – who Jason credits as the driving force behind the curbside popcorn nights.
“The theater is an iconic part of Canby and it’s a piece of Canby that people always recognize,” Jason explains. “And people in our town really support local places, even though they could also drive to Marshall, Watertown or Sioux Falls to see a movie.”
Growing up in a small town in northern North Dakota, Jason got involved in his community at a young age, and now it’s something he continues with his own kids.
“It’s really been a passion,” he says. “It’s almost a stress reliever too, getting out there and being involved. My wife has the same philosophy, so when we volunteer our kids come with us and we make it a family thing.”
After moving to Canby to work at Sanford Health in 2006, it wasn’t long before Jason was asked to serve on the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce. As a new community member, he hesitated to say yes, but since then he’s become the chamber’s president.
When it comes to leading the group, he takes the same approach as he does with his staff at Sanford Health.
“I want to be present and available, and I take that same approach in my community,” he says. “I can’t do everything, but I can bring people together and ask, ‘What can we do to make the community better?’”
Jason gains new insights every time he works with businesses and other members as they strive to carry out the chamber’s motto of connecting community with business.
“You can’t really have one without the other,” he says. “And I think it’s important to have a nice community to live in. I’m also someone who is not going to sit back and tell others what to do. I want to be there doing it and become involved.”
Although Jason is often thought of as the go-to person when ideas come up – from town events to fundraisers – he points out that his efforts as a volunteer aren’t unique in his community.
“I don’t feel like I’m going above and beyond,” he says. “It’s just part of what we do.”