Roll Models

The following article is from Uncle John’s Factastic Bathroom Reader.

Something everyone thinks about as they get close to retiring is “What am I going to do with all that free time?” Some people move to the country, others travel the world. Still others make a difference right where they are.


One of the perks that come with working in a swanky, well-run high-rise office building in cities like Seattle, Washington, is that you almost never run out of toilet paper. The janitors see to it. Each night they replace the old toilet paper rolls with new ones, whether the old rolls are used up or not. And what happens to the rolls that get replaced? In the old days, the janitors just threw them out, something that drove Allison Delong, the manager of several buildings in Seattle in the 1990s, crazy. She hated to see all that toilet paper going to waste, but what was she going to do with all those partially used rolls?

The problem continued until Allison’s father, Leon Delong, retired in 1999 and found himself with more free time than he knew what to do with. When Allison told him about all the toilet paper rolls that were being thrown away, he offered to collect them and donate them to area food banks. She instructed the janitors in her buildings to set the rolls aside, and every other week Leon would load them into his pickup truck and deliver them to the food banks. They packaged the rolls in groups of three or four and put them out for people who didn’t have enough money to buy toilet paper. “Putting out Leon’s toilet paper is like putting out T-bone steaks,” food bank manager Anthony Brown told the Seattle Times. “If we don’t hold some of it back, it’s gone in an hour.”


Seattle’s “Toilet Paper Guy,” as Leon came to be known, added one building after another to his paper route (so to speak) until he was collecting rolls from about a quarter of all the high-rent office buildings in Seattle. He collected some 2,000–3,000 rolls every other week— enough to fill the bed of his pickup truck three times. He kept at it for 15 years, until a bout with pneumonia over the holidays in 2014 forced him to hand over the route to other volunteers. By then he’d saved what he estimates as around one million rolls of toilet paper from the trash and made them available to people in need. “I’m amazed how much this mattered to people,” he told the Seattle Times in 2014. “To me, it was just a nice thing to do. Now it’s my claim to fame. You know, I’m sort of proud of it.”

[Ed. note: Leon Delong died in March of 2015.]


The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Factastic Bathroom Reader. The 28th volume of the series is chock-full of fascinating stories and facts, and comes in both the Kindle version and paper with a classy cloth cover.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

Newest 2
Newest 2 Comments

Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Roll Models"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More