There’s nothing quite like movie theater popcorn.

May 2020 marks Westlake Cinema’s 15th anniversary, and The Willard Companies, which owns Westlake Cinema, wanted to celebrate.

Although the company decided that it can’t open its doors quite yet, it will be turning on its popper each Friday throughout the month of May.

For a $15 donation to Lake Christian Ministries in support of ending local food insecurity, customers will receive a five-gallon bag of popcorn.

Here’s how it works. Call (540) 721-6314 by 5 p.m. each Thursday to make a $15 donation through Westlake Cinema to LCM by credit card over the phone. Then, pick up a gift of a five-gallon bag of popcorn between 4 and 6 p.m. Friday at the cinema, located at 84 Westlake Road, Suite 117, at Westlake Towne Center. Call after arrival to let staff know, and they will put a bag on a table outside the front door for contactless pickup.

Many businesses, nonprofits and community members at Smith Mountain Lake are facing unprecedented difficulties. Jane Winters, LCM executive director, said the number of people who came to the nonprofit for help in March doubled. Westlake Cinema hopes the revenue generated by the popcorn program can help.

The best time to reach someone to place an order is Monday through Thursday from 12 to 5 p.m. There is limited staff, so leave a voicemail message if a call is not answered. Place orders early, as they will only give out 30 bags per week.

As a bonus each week, a random number generator will select one donor as the winner of two movie passes, which will be good through Dec. 31, 2021.

Lake Christian Ministries will receive 100 percent of each $15 donation.

“Supporting organizations like Lake Christian Ministries is more important now than ever,” said Lee Willard, vice president of Corporate Holdings at The Willard Companies, which owns and operates Westlake Cinema. “If this program can help just one family have a good meal, then it is a program worth doing, in my opinion.”

Originally, Westlake Cinema had planned a broader celebration throughout May 2020 to mark the 15th anniversary. Statewide mandates ended those plans, but this popcorn program can commemorate the milestone while celebrating the Smith Mountain Lake community coming together in solidarity to support the area.

Anyone can support the cinema by purchasing gift cards and T-shirts, both available at www.WestlakeCinema.com.

For more ways to support Lake Christian Ministries, consider dropping off cans or jars of food with LCM volunteers in front of Smith Mountain Building Supply from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month through July. Visit www.ASimpleGestureSML.org to learn more about its pantry pickup program.

To support the local economy and help neighbors remain employed, visit WestlakeTowneCenter.com/Tenants for a directory of Westlake Towne Center businesses and restaurants and consider contacting them or others at Smith Mountain Lake. Many are taking orders over the phone or online, and many offer shipping or are implementing that option.

Join the Facebook group We Shop Local SML Virtually to learn about or offer more ideas on ways to help without leaving home.

“Westlake Cinema and The Willard Companies appreciate everything you can do to support the Smith Mountain Lake area’s residents and economy,” stated The Willard Companies.

The Willard Companies is the umbrella for Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc., Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, The Waterfront Country Club, The Water’s Edge Country Club and The Westlake golf course. The Willard Companies also is affiliated with Westlake Towne Center and Westlake Cinema.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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