(WSYR-TV) — As our country celebrates freedom, Americans can’t help but think about the freedoms being taken from our allies in Ukraine and many of us wonder what we can do. Marshall Strauss thought there must be a way for his small-town movie house in Massachusetts to help. 

 “We reached out to people in the community and offered to screen a film and donate all the proceeds to Ukrainian relief,” says Strauss. “Everybody thought it was a fine idea.  Nobody had a film.”

But then, he found “the guide,” A 2014 film by a Ukrainian director.  It was about an American boy caught up in earlier struggles against Soviet oppression, and it had never been shown in the United States.  The director signed off on a benefit screening, with the provision that all ticket sales go to Ukrainian relief efforts.  Things took off from there. 

“By the third week of March, over 600 cinemas in the United States, Canada, and Holland had agreed to show the film. With that same provision, that proceeds go to Ukrainian relief,” Strauss continued.  

Those numbers have now reached almost 700 theatres, including screening for Congress on Capitol Hill.  And, since March, they’ve raised over $130,000. 

Strauss says that every dollar that those theatres have touched for ticket sales came to him and they’re being passed along to Ukraine. 

“People care about this effort and you know, it’s not like this money is going toward armaments,” says Nat Tobin, owner of Manlius Arts Cinema. “It’s going toward humanitarian efforts.”

The Manlius Arts Cinema signed on as soon as they were invited to join in.  A 7:00 p.m. slot on Sunday night of Independence weekend seemed just the right fit, and it fits their schedule. 

“It would be nice if there were an effort nationally among small art house theatres like ours to get involved, to get more involved on issues that we care about,” says Tobin 

Stauss emphasizes that you can make a difference, that passivity is not the answer, but activity.