MOREHEAD CITY — Like old familiar friends, nearly 2,400 colorful pumpkins and hundreds of gourds have arrived and are set up on the front lawn of First Presbyterian Church.
Volunteers could be seen Wednesday afternoon scurrying about with wheelbarrows and whatever else they could use to unload a large tractor-trailer and place the pumpkins and unique gourds on pallets spread across the lawn on Arendell Street.
The annual sale of pumpkins benefits youth mission trips, and this year 120 pumpkins are being donated to students at Ocracoke School, which was flooded in September during Hurricane Dorian.
The Rev. Tim Havlicek, church pastor, said some of the proceeds are also used to fund youth work groups that continue to help repair county homes damaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Rev. Havlicek said when the church started selling pumpkins more than 10 years ago, he didn’t expect its popularity to grow into what has now become a county tradition.
“We started out selling a few pumpkins as a fundraiser to benefit youth projects, now we’ve become known as the pumpkin church,” he said. “Last year we gave all of our proceeds to help with Hurricane Florence repair projects, but this year we wanted to start getting back to sending our youth on mission trips as well.”
Youth will take trips to Alabama and Montreat Conference Center.
Pumpkins will be sold from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There are many varieties and colors, and prices range from $1 for the smallest to $25 for the largest. The patch will remain open through Thursday, Oct. 31.
The pumpkin patch is also open to school groups, with storytellers and games available for those that make arrangements ahead of time.
As well as helping church youth and hurricane victims, a portion of the proceeds helps a Navajo reservation in New Mexico that grows the pumpkins. When they’re harvested, the reservation contracts with truck drivers to haul the pumpkins to nonprofits and churches across the nation.
Those assisting to offload the colorful gourds said they believe the pumpkins help restore a sense of hope to the community, which is in the restoration process from hurricanes Florence and Dorian.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.