By John Anderson
When I happened upon the pumpkin unloading at the First Congregational Church a few weeks back, I was amazed at the efficiency of the operation. Volunteers of all ages carried 2650 large pumpkins from the tractor trailer and placed them throughout the lawn on pallets placed by volunteers and stored by other volunteers in the off season which is basically 11 months of the year. Cardboard boxes with small pumpkins and gourds were also offloaded and offered for sale. The common theme here is volunteers, and their efforts benefit many.
This project is possible because of Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers in Greensboro, North Carolina which has been facilitating no-risk fundraisers for churches and other non-profits for over 30 years. They have leased land since 1989 on the Navajo Reservation in Farmington, New Mexico where they pay for all associated costs of growing over 5.5 million pumpkins on 1200 acres. They also pay the trucking costs to ship the pumpkins to their partners, over 1300 in 48 states. In 2009, truckers logged 1.6 million miles delivering pumpkins to their partners.
On a local level, Diane Moore and Shirley Hill are the co-chairs this fall, and it was all hands on deck when the semi pulled over on Church St. The church makes some donations to local causes like Keep Auburn Warm, but most of their cut goes to fund other church activities. Those activities often benefit Auburn citizens as well. After the trailer was empty of pumpkins, children distributed the straw that gave this precious load some cushion over the 2,000-mile journey.
In the end, the town benefits, the church benefits, truckers benefit, and the Native Americans in New Mexico benefit. This is a real feel good effort, and all involved should feel a great sense of pride. Pumpkins will be on sale through Halloween. Have a look at some images from October 4th and 5th.