Pumpkin project takes off at First Mennonite Church


A small army of volunteers, including members of the Tabor College men?s and women?s basketball teams, were on hand Sunday to unload the truck load of pumpkins for the FMC Pumpkin Patch. In bucket-brigade fashion, the pumpkins came off the truck (left photo), were tossed to Kelly Linnens and then to Drew Maddox (lower left photo) and down a row of TC athletes until it got to men?s coach Micah Ratzlaff for display placement.

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Logging 265 volunteer hours in a congregation of a little more than 100 people is no easy task, but First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro expects to do just that during the first FMC Pumpkin Patch that started Oct. 1.

Located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Main Street, FMC will display about 1,000 pumpkins through October and will be open daily from noon to 8 p.m.

?(We want) to let folks know that the old brown church on the corner by The Lumberyard actually exists and things are happening inside,? said Kelly Linnens, a member of the fund-raising team. ?So, it becomes a community outreach as well as selling pumpkins.?

The idea for the pumpkin patch evolved from the newly constructed basketball goal and court, and the eventual children?s community playground at FMC.

?We started seven years ago with this basketball idea,? Linnens said. ?We got the goal done, so the next step is the playground.?

The FMC Pumpkin Patch was developed as a long-term fund-raising effort, but money raised during this month will be applied toward the playground project.

?(The fund-raising team) was discussing how to raise funds (for various projects) and we were looking toward the future, what can we do long-term to have on the calendar as an annual fund-raiser that would benefit our community as a service,? Linnens said.

?It started off as fundraising, but it?s evolved more into having a good time and being open to create service opportunities.

?We?re going to start small, we?re not going to have all those extracurricular things, we?re just going to focus on a good, old-fashioned meet and greet.?

The pumpkins, raised in South Carolina for the purpose of supplying non-profit organizational fund-raisers, will be sold according to size.

?It is a fundraiser, and so they?re not your cheap pumpkins, 72 cents a pound, Wal-Mart style,? Linnens said. ?So every pumpkin you buy is going toward a super cause, which is the children?s community playground.?

In addition to selling pumpkins, FMC will hold at least three additional events during October.

Linnens said the first one will take place after the Hillsboro High School home football game on Friday. The event has been dubbed ?Friday Night Lights at FMC Pumpkin Patch.?

?If it?s good weather we?ll make an announcement at the football field to come to the pumpkin patch after the game and eat some pumpkin cookies and drink some cocoa and coffee and hang out after the game,? he said. ?We?re hoping to do that at least once during the month of October.?

On Sunday, Oct. 21, FMC will host a fall party at the patch. The outreach event is open to all Marion County residents.

The party will begin at 1 p.m. with a moonwalk for ages 3 to adults. Bob-for-apples, pumpkin bowling and horse-drawn hayrack rides will also be available during the event. Chili will be served around 5 p.m.

?We?re looking forward to that (event),? Linnens said.

Two bicycles will be given away during a drawing at the fall party. Tickets are available at the pumpkin patch through Oct. 21.

?Friday Night Lights? and the FMC Fall Party will provide opportunities for donations, also toward the playground project.

Additionally, local teachers will volunteer time from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday mornings for a children?s story hour. Story hour is free to the public.

?They?re already elementary teachers, but that?s a gift that they can give back to the community,? Linnens said. ?It?s a gift they have as a member of church that they can share with the community.?

Sharing gifts is something FMC has learned about during recent Sunday sermons.

?All these things (pastor) Randy (Smith) has preached to us and talked to us as a congregation about sharing your gifts,? Linnens said.

?If we can create a gift like (the pumpkin patch) for the community, it may grow the community as well.

?If you can see the good, or the potential good in things, you can make things great.?


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