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St. Philip's students construct toilet paper castle to bring in donations for food shelf

A toilet paper castle built inside of the St. Philip’s Catholic School gymnasium was the result of a week’s worth of students, parishioners and families bringing in their toilet paper rolls as part of a service project with the Bemidji Community Food Shelf.

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St. Philip’s students pose with a castle made with toilet paper students gathered this week as part of a Fridays with the Father group project to collect personal hygiene products for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. Donations were also received from parishioners and school families. Contributed

BEMIDJI -- A toilet paper castle built inside of the St. Philip’s Catholic School gymnasium was the result of a week’s worth of students, parishioners and families bringing in their toilet paper rolls as part of a service project with the Bemidji Community Food Shelf .

“The kids are enthralled about bringing (toilet paper rolls) into the building,” said Al Nohner, food shelf church council member.

Nohner said that around 50% of food shelf patrons who come for personal care items take toilet paper with the other half taking toothpaste, deodorant and light bulbs when available.

In an effort to provide the food shelf with more of this hot commodity, food shelf Executive Director Michael Olson contacted the church council to determine who would be in the position to make donations for personal care items.

Being the St. Philip’s representative on the council, Nohner proposed the idea of St. Philip’s students building a wall out of toilet paper that they could collect throughout the week.

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After Principal Jana Norgaard shared this idea with the school faculty, the plan morphed from a wall to a tower before being finalized as a castle.

With this end goal in mind, 360 students in grades preschool through eight and 40 faculty members were able to make their donations during the week.

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St. Philip’s students construct a castle of toilet paper gathered by parishioners and school families this week as part of a Fridays with the Father group project to collect personal hygiene products for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. Contributed

"It morphed into an entire school project,” Nohner stated. “If the food shelf can be provided with more care items to give to food shelf shopper clients, that means we have money for other things like the food we provide.”

The castle itself was constructed Friday morning, though more toilet paper was still rolling into the school even after the initial castle was built.

The food shelf visited St. Philip’s in the afternoon to collect the donations, ensuring they now have a bounty of the most popular personal care item.

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St. Philip’s students construct a castle of toilet paper gathered by parishioners and school families this week as part of a Fridays with the Father group project to collect personal hygiene products for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. Contributed

“Toilet paper is not something that people necessarily think to contribute to the food shelf,” said Maryhelen Chadwick, director of stewardship and communication at St. Philip's.

Chadwick added that students had their photos taken by the structure as a way to feel that they have contributed to addressing the Bemidji community’s needs before taking the castle down.

With this being the school’s October project, St. Philip’s completes other monthly projects throughout the school year. A project last year culminated with a “Be the Difference” school banner which can be seen on the fence outside the school along Paul Bunyan Drive.

Students also have the opportunity to attend prayer retreats, the most recent of which took place Oct. 8-10 at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp in Fosston.

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St. Philip’s students construct a castle of toilet paper gathered by parishioners and school families this week as part of a Fridays with the Father group project to collect personal hygiene products for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. Contributed

"Doing all those projects and trips are great things for the kids," Chadwick said. "It's safe to assume that they're having lots of fun."

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Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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