That's what I first said when I heard we were doing a pumpkin patch. It was the first major project when I joined the church, five weeks after I started the Pumpkin Patch would open for the first time. I have nothing against pumpkins, they're a very nice gourd and all, but I didn't understand why we were selling them and what impact that would make.
Now I know different, but I don't know if everyone else knows why we do the Pumpkin Patch.
The obvious reason is the money. This is a no risk fundraiser, we do not pay for the pumpkins up front and give a percentage of what we sell back to the company. If we didn't sell a single pumpkin we would not lose any money. And the more we sell the higher the percentage of what we keep.
And where does this money go? We tithe ten percent back to the student ministry. This is used to pay for odds and ends that we need and anything we buy for the pumpkin patch like this year's new tent. We then give a set amount to each mission trip to buy down the cost of those trips. Without the Pumpkin Patch and other giving like the missions committee the cost of the sr. high summer mission trip would be around $500/person (it varies based on where we go, how many adults go, rental vans, etc.). Thanks to these other groups and selling pumpkins, the mission trip is $250-$300 depending on when you sign up.
The rest of the money is broken down based on hours worked at the patch. We then use that number to pay each person who worked an hourly wage and put that money into an account for each student they are associated with (family members have their hours go to their student, people can request their hours go to a student, etc.). So the more you work the more money in your account that you can use for things like the mission trip. Because of this we have students who have never paid for a mission trip, retreat, even a t-shirt because they banked up so much money in their account working at the pumpkin patch and our other fundraiser, selling concessions at Upwards.
But there is one other big reason for the pumpkin patch. We get to be a part of the community. Most fundraisers are targeted at the same people, those who attend our church. This one is completely outside the four walls of Fishers United Methodist Church. It is very visible in our area (we have been called "the Pumpkin Church" more than once). This is a great conversation starter with people about our church and asking them to join us for worship. We give out a flyer inviting people to our Sunday morning services and our Christmas Eve services. So if you know someone you would like to invite to church but they would not be interested in that conversation, would they be interested in buying a pumpkin and supporting students serving those in need all over America? Bring them to the patch and start that conversation.
In my time here at Fishers UMC I have taken hundreds of students on mission trips, and Liz has too. Thanks to the Pumpkin Patch many students are able to go without worrying about finances, and we have been able to give a little extra financial support to the work sites we serve at. So please, consider buying a pumpkin at our patch. Invite your friends, family and co-workers to support this ministry. If you are able, we'd love it if you could sign up to work a two hour shift. One of our biggest hurdles is students who want to work at the patch but their parent can't work with them (and we won't let students work by themselves), you working with them would help them raise money, be a light to the community, and you'd get to know a great student who loves Christ. Sign up for a shift at http://signup.com/go/PVWCNVV.
Thank you for supporting the Pumpkin Patch, it goes far beyond a decoration on your porch.