The Dickinson State University (DSU) business ethics class had one goal in mind when they started the 8th annual Red Paperclip Challenge – help raise funds to fight childhood hunger. And on Tuesday afternoon, the class shattered that goal.

DSU’s School of Business and Entrepreneurship professor, Dr. Debora Dragseth, and 26 of her students, embarked on the journey of fighting childhood hunger earlier this semester. Every year, Dr. Dragseth challenges her students with a fun but extensive game – the Red Paperclip Challenge. Based on a childhood barter game called “Bigger and Better,” Kyle MacDonald, a young man from Canada, made a series of trades on Craig’s List to go from one red paper clip to owning his very own home.

However, instead of the DSU students keeping their final trade items, the final trade items go up for auction to benefit a charity of their choice. This year, the class selected the Dickinson BackPack Food Program.

“The Red Paperclip project has to be my favorite project that I have done while in college,” stated Bridger Grovom. “It shows that people are willing to give to a good cause. The best part of this is where the money is going and how it benefits the children in our community. The fact that our class has worked hard over the semester to help benefit a local charity that fights childhood hunger is awesome. It was a rewarding experience.” 

After countless number of trades throughout the semester, each student made their final trade that resulted in an online auction item for individuals to bid on to help raise funds and fight local childhood hunger. After hours of preparation to set up the online auction and organize the in-person event held at the Dickinson State University Heritage Foundation House on Tuesday, April 18, the class realized why they worked so hard the whole semester as they realized the total amount raised.

“I’m proud to have participated in an event like this,” said Alex Praus. “Being able to raise a substantial amount of money to benefit a local charity is a great feeling. Because of this class and the amount raised, we will be able to benefit many children in the Dickinson community who might not have a meal every night. It’s a great feeling to have been a part of this challenge.”

This year, the amount raised more than doubled last year – resulting in a new Red Paperclip record with over $4,000 in donations going directly to the BackPack Food Program. In relation to how it helps children in the Dickinson community, $5 feeds a child for the weekend and $200 feeds a child every weekend during the school year.

The 38 items that were up for bid on the online auction site included a sausage maker, a set of three wakeboards, an Apple watch, tool kits, a one-of-a-kind DSU blanket, and much more. In addition, the in-person event featured items which individuals could ‘buy now’ – including 30 mystery grab bags.

“The class wants to thank the DSU Heritage Foundation, University Relations, all of the donors, and DSU faculty members, Holly Gruhlke, Lori Hauf and Tim Kessel, who pitched in with their talents by making one-of-a-kind auction items,” said Dragseth. “My goal in all my classes is for our students to do and learn something meaningful, like successful bartering. The Red Paperclip Challenge also allowed them to make a direct and meaningful impact on the lives of children. I am so proud of the way that our students stepped up to the challenge. This year was definitely something special.”

Members of the business ethics class include: Kon Speelmon,  Gage Swanson, Jaden Heartwell, Samuel Adams, Tel Lunde, Alex Praus, Galen Brantley, Kayli Weirs, Nelson Crisafulli, Bridger Grovom, Jackson Willems, Hanna Kisse, Derika Praus, Jett Ogren, Emily Beck, Hannah Lucas, Jersey Filkowski, McKell Meidinger, Rohnnie Nacota, Maddie Olsen, Kael Richards, Max Anderson, Hailey Enny, Haylie Oberlander, Britt Oliver, and Isabel Lopez.

To view photos of the event, please click here.