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Four Pines Bookstore donates to Bemidji Community Theater's 'Playing It Forward' program

The “Playing It Forward” program formally began in 2012 during a production of “Oliver” when the cast and crew collected non-perishable food items for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf.

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"Elsa," played by Bemidji High School Junior Helen Bartlett, receives "Frozen Jr." books from Four Pines Bookstore owner Gina Grinde. The bookstore recently donated 100 Disney "Frozen Jr." books to the Bemidji Community Theater's "Paying It Forward" program.
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BEMIDJI — Gina and Jason Grinde, owners of Bemidji’s Four Pines Bookstore, recently donated 100 Disney “Frozen Jr.” books to the Bemidji Community Theater’s “Playing It Forward” program.

The program began as a way for the Bemidji Community Theater to say thank you to the community for supporting live theater in all of its many forms and as a means of teaching the spirit of philanthropy to the young people involved in theater productions.

“Frozen Jr.” opened Friday, April 1 at the BCT Performing Arts Center , 316 Beltrami Ave. NW and continues April 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10.

The “Playing It Forward” program formally began in 2012 during a production of “Oliver” when the cast and crew collected non-perishable food items for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf.

The next year, during the production of “Peter Pan,” some of the young people in the cast donated their hair to Locks of Love who make wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment. They also made and sold fairy wings with the money earned going to the Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities as well as St. Jude’s Hospital.

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During “The King and I” they ran an elephant boutique with profits going to Save the Elephant refuges in Thailand and Tennessee.

During “Dragonsong” the cast held a Dragon Boutique with profits being donated to Evergreen Youth and Family Services.

In 2018, during “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” the cast collected both new and slightly used children’s books so that every child attending the show received a free book in order to tie the magic of theater to the magic of reading.

From that point on, the book drive has become an annual event to promote literacy. Over the course of the last four years, BCT has donated more than 8,000 books to children who attend the annual children’s production.

They plan to continue this tradition with Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” and also to hold a boutique that will include handmade finger puppets representing the major characters from the production and handmade Renaissance-style masks, all made by cast and crew.

Funds from the boutique will help supplement scholarships for young people wanting to attend BCT Junior Summer Theater Camp in June.

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