The Cochrane Movie House helped support the community with kindness and popcorn last week. Staff and volunteers collected donations March 28 for the Cochrane Activettes Food Bank to help with their pandemic response.

Business has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, said Hal Wolf, owner and manager of the Cochrane Movie House. He explained that with the closure of all non-essential businesses including the movie house, he was looking for a way to help those most vulnerable in the community.

“With the closure, I found I had a little time on my hands,” said Hal. “I had also just heard that Cochrane Activettes had to cancel their April food drive. Since I had a perishable food product, I decided to use it to help the Activettes.”

As response to the pandemic and resulting economic downturn have become more serious, food banks are seeing a dramatic rise in public demand.

In total, 345 vehicles came through the drive-through style food drive to make cash and food donations. Hal said two full pickup trucks of food were collected.

“We gave away over 450 bags of popcorn, which took us over two days to make,” he explained. “In fact, my popcorn machine broke down because of the continuous strain I put on it. However, it is back in action and ready to go again.”

Due to health concerns over the pandemic, social distancing and sanitation were emphasized, with volunteers collecting donations and distributing pre-bagged popcorn using a bin system — donors remained in their vehicles for the duration of the process.

“We had a few staff members volunteer, along with some close family friends. I found it hard to manage social distancing at first, but we figured it out and it all flowed and worked out very well. There is no way any of this would have happened without everyone’s help and support — it was truly invaluable,” he said.

When asked what’s next for the Cochrane Movie House, Hal replied, “We would love to run this event again soon, conditions permitting!”

“We would also like to open one day a week to be able to sell some of our popcorn. We are working on the logistics of that now. We will also be launching a trivia contest in days to come, rewarding each participant with free movie passes when we re-open. Also with all the entries, we will be doing a draw for a family pass to the movies for an entire year.”

While Hal admits he never imagined so many businesses would have to close their doors to a pandemic, he wanted to offer Cochrane businesses some words of encouragement.

“I love seeing that fellow small business operators are still open and still able to generate some revenue. I believe many small businesses face overwhelming odds every day and in fact, that is what makes them successful in their own right!”

“For many of us, this is just another obstacle for us to overcome, albeit a monster obstacle! My advice would be to do whatever it takes to get through this! Be positive! Be resourceful! Be resilient! Be strong! Be relevant!”

Residents can follow the Cochrane Movie House on Facebook at for upcoming events.

“Hal Wolf is the kind of business owner who consistently shows us what community is all about. Whether it’s a popcorn trade for the food bank, movie Saturday for local school fundraisers or simply hiring and providing guidance and leadership to teenagers he’s always engaged in giving back one way or another.” 

Erin Gale, mother of girls pictured. 

“Hal and the team at the Movie House always go above and beyond to support the community. At times like this, it’s so important to see the community come together. Whatever we need to do to support our local businesses like the movie house, we must do. One of my friends suggested purchasing gift vouchers for the movie house to use when it reopens. We are all at home watching Netflix anyway so why not pay for a voucher or two.”

Lucy Lovelock, resident