When is a Pumpkin Patch More than a Pumpkin Patch?
By: Sherri Gragg
October is the month of the pumpkin. There are pumpkin scented candles. Pumpkin flavored doughnuts and muffins. Even in Texas, where it is still hot enough to wear shorts and flip flops, there are pumpkin spice lattes on desks and in cupholders throughout the state. This year, Americans will spend an estimated whopping $575.26 million dollars on pumpkins during the month of October.
But when is a pumpkin patch more than a pumpkin patch? The answer is, when that pumpkin patch belongs to Lanes Chapel UMC Tyler. Then… a pumpkin patch becomes a blessing.
A Higher Purpose
For the past four years, for every single day in October, Lanes Chapel has offered the community pumpkins large and small with a greater purpose in mind; One hundred percent of the pumpkin patch profits fuel vital outreach ministries. “The money goes to help people in need with utility payments, rent and mortgages,” said pumpkin patch coordinator, Susan Thompson. Proceeds also help fill the shelves of a bi-monthly food pantry and help fund all of the church’s year-round ministries as well.
Last year, the Lane’s Chapel Pumpkin Patch sold over 5,000 pumpkins, yielding $17,000 for church ministries. This year, they hope to sell as many as 6,000 pumpkins. Additional offerings such as small children’s train ride draw families to the pumpkin patch from surrounding areas as well.
A Relationship of Trust
One of the most beautiful aspects of the pumpkin patch is the partnership Lane’s Chapel has with their supplier. Pumpkin USA has been providing pumpkins for various ministries throughout the United States since 1975. Each afternoon, Lane’s Chapel reports their revenue for the day for which they receive 40 percent of the profits. It is a relationship built entirely on trust. At the end of the season, all leftover pumpkins are donated to local farmers to feed livestock or to animal rescue centers. This year, Lane’s Chapel will donate their remaining pumpkins to the Tiger Rescue Center.
Lane’s Chapel’s relationship with Pumpkin USA also meets the needs of Native Americans on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico where the pumpkins are grown. In an area in which unemployment is at a staggering 42 percent, Pumpkin USA employs more than 700 members of the Navajo nation during harvest in addition to an entirely Native off-season staff.
“There are people in need,” said Thompson, “We go about our daily lives and don’t even see them.”
So, when is a pumpkin patch more than just a pumpkin patch? When God blesses it to meet the needs of his children.