Earlier this fall, the people of Palestine Lutheran Church in Huxley, Iowa were looking for a project to raise money for the high school youth group (called R.O.C.K. for Reaching Out for Christ’s Kingdom) to use for mission trips and service projects. Little did they know, the project they ultimately undertook would raise more than two times their goal of $2500 and involve congregation members ranging in age from three to over eighty.
Congregation members clean freshly picked
pumpkins (left) prior to the big sale day (right)
On September 30th, around thirty-five church members gathered at a member’s farm dressed, equipped and ready for a hard day of work in the field. Despite the warm weather and physical labor required to do the job, they picked and washed thousands of donated pumpkins and gourds to sell a couple weeks later. Not only did members do all aspects of the job, they loaned trailers, buckets, wagons, brushes and all the necessary equipment to harvest and prepare the pumpkins for the sale.
The R.O.C.K. kids decided that rather than pricing the pumpkins, they would use a free-will offering system so everyone could afford a pumpkin for Halloween. Many congregation members were so excited about the project, they offered to sell pumpkins from their driveway or in front of the church ahead of the main sale. These “pre-sales” netted almost half of the total project income. Then, church youth and adults alike took shifts on the big sale day and sold many more pumpkins and gourds to anyone who stopped while passing through Huxley that day. Many who came commented that it was quite a sight to see more than seven trailer loads of pumpkins lined up for sale. Some bought only one or two pumpkins to carve, while others left with a truckload of pumpkins and gourds to give to nursing home residents, classrooms or for use at an upcoming fall festival. All leftover pumpkins were then donated to local schools, daycares and the Food Bank of Central Iowa.
The R.O.C.K. group ended up with almost six thousand dollars for their efforts, thanks to the many helping hands from the congregation. But, the best part of the project was that everyone learned how much can be accomplished when people come to work together for a good cause. Now the youth have the challenge of finding the best use of their ample resources to help others at home and abroad.
Article written by Doreen Blackmer, member of Palestine Lutheran Church in Huxley, IA