NOTE: This story is a sidebar to UMNS #479. Photographs are available.
A UMNS Feature
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (UMNS) - Jill Vogle and about 50 of her closest friends are spending a windy Sunday afternoon unloading 2,000 pumpkins from the back of an 18-wheel truck.
Vogle is the senior high youth director at Fellowship United Methodist Church and a new recruit to Pumpkin Patch USA, a company that sends pumpkins to churches to sell for fund-raisers.
"We will be here seven days a week for the entire month of October," she says. "Sunday we're open from noon to 6 p.m., and Monday through Saturday we're here from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m."
The youth group of about 60 will be out in the pumpkin patch every day, working to raise money for their summer mission trips, summer camps and other youth events.
Fellowship's pumpkins were packed on the truck Sept. 25 in Farmington, N.M., and arrived at the church in Murfreesboro around 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28. Fellowship is one of nearly 700 United Methodist churches selling the pumpkins during October.
The pumpkins sell from $2 to $35, with some of the smaller ones going for 50 cents to $1. Congregations keep 25 to 40 percent of the profit, depending on gross sales volume.
"Our goal is to raise anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000," Vogle says. Laughing, she adds, "That's our goal, and that may be a high goal, but that's kind of what we're shooting for right now.
"I've talked to a couple of different churches that say this is a really good fund-raiser for them because not only does it let the youth get more involved in the church, it brings the community in too, and it's just a really good outreach," she says. "â€¦ And it's also a big fund-raiser, so we don't have to have constant fund-raisers through the course of the year." # # # *Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.