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Lifelong Learning

Horizon West Spuds Learn The Gift of Giving Back

April 15, 2020

In early February, Jaimeson Dunlap (left) and Mohamed Hashim, both 6th graders at Horizon Middle School in Moorhead, helped stock shelves at the Spud Store. Photo Credit: Tracy Briggs/The Forum


Students pack essential items into a bag and are handed a sticky note with another student’s name and classroom. They travel through the hall brimming with joy, excited to help a friend in need. This is all a part of the experience at the Spud Store at Horizon West.  

What began as an inspired idea from another school, became reality for Stacie Gregoire, 6th grade language arts teacher. “I had seen a blurb that a high school started a store to help others, it got my wheels turning on what opportunities I could create for our students at Horizon Middle School West Campus,” she says.

This idea would eventually become the Spud Store, where students could receive essential items like deodorant, clothing, household items and more.

Once a space was set up, students gathered items to put in the store. This included collection days, where a student could donate items or money, anything from a penny to a dollar. The money collected during these days was used to purchase items for the store. 

Learning teamwork, life skills and more

After multiple collection days, students prepared the store by organizing all of the items, learning to do laundry and purchasing items from funds raised. Gregoire says, “Not only does the Spud Store teach students essential skills, but more importantly it teaches them empathy and helping others.”

This program is impactful. Gregoire has had students come back from delivering items who are near tears. Being able to support their fellow students creates a strong emotional connection. They can see their hard work making a difference and helping their fellow classmates and friends. 

Although it only just began this past October, Gregoire hopes to keep the Spud Store open in the future. She is thankful for the help of many other teachers, and most importantly the students. 

For Gregoire, one of the most important parts of the project is inclusivity. “I made sure that all students have the opportunity to work in the store. I have students that have received items, who have also been a part of giving back to other students in need.” 

Empathy during distance learning

Although the Spud Store at Horizon Middle School is suspended with the announcement of schools moving to Distance Learning, opportunities to give to families in need at Moorhead Area Public Schools haven’t stopped because of COVID-19. As needs increase for many families during this pandemic, community members and Spud families still have opportunities to show empathy and help our neighbors. A community group has organized a supply drive that Moorhead Area Public Schools is distributing to families in need. 

If you would like to help a family in our community, donations of personal hygiene items, books and games can be purchased from online registries at Target or Amazon. All items will be shipped to the Probstfield Center for Education. Visit Moorhead Community Supply Drive on Facebook for more details.

Categorized under: School