By Hannah Neumann
With more than 12,000 pumpkins, Central Christian Church is hosting its ninth annual pumpkin patch, a spot known for community gathering and family fun.
“We started doing pumpkin patches in 2006, our first one being to fund a habitat house,” said the Rev. Kristin Jack, associate minister. “Since then, starting in 2007, it’s been a fundraiser for our children and youth ministries.”
Jack said the church has seen a great variety of Waco community members coming to enjoy the patch and pick out pumpkins.
“We’ve seen every age, every demographic,” Jack said. “Families with small children, teenagers and college students, grandparents, I mean you name it and that demographic is out here. It’s all of the Waco community that participates.”
Jack said aside from the patch providing a great gathering area and a large selection of pumpkins, it is also a common spot for field trips. Every year, the church gets between 20 and 30 preschool, elementary school and day-care groups that make trips to the patch for fun and education.
“We read stories and play games and talk about where our pumpkins come from, as a lot of kids think we grow the pumpkins here,” Jack said. “We talk about the whole process of how we get the pumpkins here and just make it a fun little field trip.”
The pumpkins come from an organization called Pumpkins USA, out of Farmington, N.M., she said.
“The organization coordinates pumpkin patches like this all around the country for schools, nonprofits, churches and other organizations,” she said. “They have about 1,300 pumpkin patch partners that they supply pumpkins to. They send us pumpkins on a big ol’ truck and we have people of all ages that come from our church and help to unload all of the pumpkins.”
Jack said this year the patch received more than two truckloads, which is more than it has ever received.
According to the church’s web page, while the patch is a fundraiser for children and youth ministries, the children of the church will be donating food to Caritas and toys to Mission Waco’s Christmas toy store with some of the proceeds.
The Rev. Brian Coats, senior minister, said aside from it being a great fundraising opportunity, the greatest aspect of the patch is how it brings the community together.
Coats said he can go anywhere in town and if he mentions to someone that he is from Central Christian Church, they know it as ‘the pumpkin patch church.’
“For me as pastor, it all comes down to connection with the community,” said Coats. “The fact that there are so many people from all around town and the area that are on our campus at some point during this month and that we have some time with them is great.”