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Community donations get 120+ kids free tickets to ‘Black Panther’

DECATUR, Ala. - Tuesday, Decatur Youth Services (DYS) vans and multiple vehicles filled the parking lot of the Carmike theater, carrying more than 120 kids ready to see the latest Marvel film.

This group of theater-goers is different, though, because the community covered the cost of all the tickets, plus the popcorn. It all started when DYS Program Coordinator Kurtistyne White saw the movie on opening night.

"I was like 'I got so much out of this movie, I would love to see as many kids go see the movie as possible,'" White explained.

She took that thought to Facebook, and the River City community overwhelmingly responded.

"People started pledging 2 tickets, 50 tickets, 20 tickets, 30 tickets, on and on and on," said White with a smile.

Chrishard Hampton is a 17-year-old who enjoyed the movie with DYS, and said the ride to the theater was bubbling with excitement.

"[The kids] were going crazy," he laughed. "Some talking about if Wakanda is real or fake, or if Black Panther is part of Marvel."

But he understands the generosity that made it happen.

"They could choose anybody to help out, but they chose this community right here, this program."

White says the movie demonstrates a number of principles they try to instill in their students.

"We serve under-served kids, at-risk children, a lot of them not get the movie experience," she explained. "I feel the movie displayed how you should have integrity, how you should be loyal, and then of course the cultural aspect, the continent of Africa."

As the kids ran about the theater's lobby, excited to see the movie breaking box office records, she reflects on the swift outpouring of support from the Decatur community. She says this all happened in just over a week. She has a simple message to the many donors.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, and the kids thank you, they all know the community loves them."