From Four Corners, New Mexico to San Marcos and all the way to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 77,000 pumpkins are making quite the impact.
The First United Methodist Church San Marcos held its annual pumpkin patch in October, and this year’s profit is going to School Fuel and For His Glory Outreach.
School Fuel is a program in Hays County which provides food for children who may not have access to meals on the weekend, according to Lou-Marie Heath, chairman of the pumpkin patch. For His Glory Outreach is a non-profit ministry in Haiti with an orphanage named Maison des Enfants de Dieu, meaning “House of the Children of the Lord.”
“We chose these two (organizations) because they involve children and if we don’t provide for our children, then our world wouldn’t exist,” Heath said. “We can’t live forever, so we have to protect the children.”
The pumpkins are bought from a Navajo reservation in Four Corners where the seeds are planted and harvested. A percentage of the money goes back to the reservation, while the rest is evenly donated to School Fuel and For His Glory Outreach, according to Heath.
School Fuel is a local project that First United works with frequently, church volunteer Penny Slavik, patch volunteer said. During the week, the food bags are prepared for the children and many church members come out to help.
“With School Fuel, that’s helping kids that may even come out to the pumpkin patch and it’s a really nice for thing for people to see that we’re doing something for our town,” Slavik said. “It brings a sense of community.”
According to their website, each month For His Glory Outreach rejects over 80 children to their orphanage due to limited finances and space. However, for children in the orphanage, there is a school that teaches curriculum up to fourth grade.
“Haiti was chosen because they had a hurricane and then an earthquake right behind it,” Heath said. “They’re a very poor country and the orphanage is set up and run by people who are Christians, and we just feel like that’s what we should be doing.”
Slavik said the pumpkin patch itself draws out quite a crowd, with people hosting photo shoots and bringing their pets and children out to see the pumpkins. The patch is the closest one to Texas State making it accessible for locals and students not wanting to drive.
“It’s fun to sit here and watch,” Slavik said. “Not everyone who comes purchases a pumpkin, and that’s fine because it’s become a tradition for a lot of people to come out each year.”
At the beginning of October, the pumpkins were unloaded and several university fraternities volunteered their time. Students can also volunteer while the patch is selling pumpkins and Heath said more students are always welcome.
“I really think the students benefit a lot because they’re seeing what’s going on in their community while they’re going to school, and maybe they’ll take some of what they’re learning back to their hometowns,” Heath said. “It’s really a good thing all the way around.”
First United supports the community through donating to programs like School Fuel and by reigning in student volunteers to help San Marcos,according to Heath.
“I think we have one of the best cities in the state as far as I’m concerned,” Heath said. “That’s because of all of the people we have here. Any student that wants to come and volunteer their time, learn something and exercise a little, they’ll have a good time.”