Father Bob White of St. Victoria Catholic Church set out the challenge for his confirmation class.

The student who brought in the most food donations for the Bountiful Basket Food Shelf could decorate the fresh white cast of his broken arm.

Hannah Erickson, a ninth-grader at Chaska High School, took the challenge to heart. Last Wednesday night, she enlisted her entire confirmation class to gather the results of her neighborhood canvassing. Students went out to the church parking lot and helped her and her father, Greg, carry in 37 grocery bags of food items for the food shelf.

“I thought about what it would be like to have money be tight, and not have food in the house,” Hannah explained to her confirmation class when youth leader Nick Tofteland asked her about her motivation for the project. “What if I didn’t have parents to take care of me and put food on the table? And I heard that donations are lower than they have been because fewer people are able to make donations to the food shelves because of the economy.”

The food drive challenge took place in March, which was food share month at St. Victoria. And it coincided with Father Bob’s skiing accident.

“Oh yes,” Father Bob said, by phone. “I went skiing to that exotic place called Buck Hill. I’m a regular skier, and I go every Wednesday. On Feb. 15, I was there, and ran into a snowboarder who was about 200 pounds plus. He saw me coming and rolled but I caught my wrist and it snapped. It was my right wrist. Fortunately, I’m left handed.”

Surgery and five pins later, Father Bob is on the road to recovery. When it was time to apply his cast, he turned down fluorescent pink, blue, green, and all the other trendy colors.

“Absolutely not,” Father Bob told the medical technician. “I want white. I’ll tell you why.

“The confirmation kids will bring canned goods for the food shelf,” he explained. “The one that brings in the most gets to decorate my cast for Easter.”

The technician rolled his eyes, but Father Bob insisted. “I want it to look like a white Easter egg,” he recalls saying.

Hannah’s father, Greg, commented on his daughter’s determination.

“Every night after school/softball practice and before homework she grabbed some grocery bags,” Erickson said, “and hit the street until dark. It’s been amazing to watch. It’s been amazing to see how generous people have been.”

Last Wednesday night, Hannah and Father Bob sat at the table in the church’s lounge area. While the rest of the confirmation class was in the classroom with Tofteland, Hannah unpacked her arsenal of colored markers, glitter gel, and paint.

“You had a design all planned ahead of time,” Father Bob said approvingly, as Hannah carefully drew, then painted and embelished his cast. “I always wanted a tattoo. This is even better.”

Father Bob has kept the cast under wraps and plans to reveal it at Easter services this Sunday.