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Stockpiling goodwill

Students from around the Fargo-Moorhead area began the ambitious task of filling the floor of the Fargodome with food for the needy Monday. The Fargo Catholic Schools Network was the first in the door for the "Fill The Dome" drive, with Holy Spir...

Fargo South senior Katie Leach on Monday unpacks food donations

Students from around the Fargo-Moorhead area began the ambitious task of filling the floor of the Fargodome with food for the needy Monday.

The Fargo Catholic Schools Network was the first in the door for the "Fill The Dome" drive, with Holy Spirit Elementary and Shanley High School getting the bulk of their donations in by 9 a.m.

Then came the crew from Nativity Elementary, led in through the north tunnel entrance by Principal Cindy Hutchins.

"Grab a box and get unloadin'," she yelled out to her 54 fifth-graders, who began laying out cans and boxes.

"When they heard that the high school kids were asking them to do this," that got them motivated, she said.

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"I think it's easy to bring food to the food pantry," Hutchins said. The "Fill The Dome" event "sort of kicks it up a notch."

Forty-eight K-12 schools in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo are taking part in the event, conceived in June and brought together by student high school leaders who make up the Metro Area Student Council Ambassadors. North Dakota State University and Concordia College are also taking part in the event.

Early Monday, the empty expanse of the dome's floor looked daunting, even as cars, vans and pickups dropped off donations and student volunteers scrambled to lay out the food.

"We could definitely use a lot of help," said Bill Restemayer, student body president at Shanley. He said donations from the public would be welcome from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in the dome's lobby.

"We could have done something like fill a gym," said Emma Johnson, Fargo South High student council president. "No matter what, the real winners are the people that need the food."

Greg Tehven, a West Fargo High School graduate and one of the founders of Students Today Leaders Forever, said he talked about goal-setting with the student leaders.

"This is so exciting. ... They were just happy they had a big goal," Tehven said. "I actually think it's going to work."

"There is definitely a lot of energy in the place and a lot of enthusiasm," dome General Manager Rob Sobolik said. "You look at it now and it's 40 minutes into it and they have a decent amount of food already. Every little bit helps."

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Fewer than half of the schools involved dropped off donations Monday. The rest will drop off their food donations today. The event finishes on Wednesday with a news conference and the "unfilling" of the dome, with the donations taken to Great Plains Food Bank for distribution to food banks and soup kitchens in Cass and Clay counties.

Among the first walk-up food donors were Curt and Margaret Sveum of Fargo.

"I think what intrigues me is in this day and age, you have all these young kids geared toward this," Margaret Sveum said. "It kind of warms the cockles of your heart."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Stockpiling goodwill Helmut Schmidt 20071120

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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