Pumpkins patch up First Baptist Church Hebron


Ariana Campbell

As the air starts to cool and the leaves begin to fall, members of First Baptist Church Hebron gather outside of the church for something that comes only once a year – the unloading of the pumpkins.

Since 2004, the church has been selling pumpkins each fall to fund its ministries.

“It got started originally to fund the children’s division, and what they do is they just sell the pumpkins and then most of that money goes to the operating budget of the children’s division,” Pastor Steve Smith said.

The rest of the money earned will go toward fixing the church’s windows.

“All of our windows need to be either repaired or replaced, and we are really trying to preserve the historical value of the church,” church member and volunteer Heidi Tidman said.

In January of 2015, the church was made aware that the lead on their windows was disintegrating due to heat, and pieces of the windows had started to fall out.

“Our windows are almost 100 years old,” Smith said. “They need to be restored, and it’s very expensive to do that.”

In order to avoid using all of the money from the pumpkin sales for the window repairs, the church has also begun selling books and fundraising.

“It’s going to cost about $2,000 a window, and we have 55 or 60 windows, so it is quite an endeavor,” Smith said. “Any extra cash that we can find from any ministry is going to go to taking care of the windows.”

While First Baptist is actively working to fund their window repair project, the church’s main goal is renovating the playground for the children’s ministry.

“What we are going to do with the money that we get from the pumpkins this year is buy new playground equipment,” Children’s Director Marti Mortensen said.

For First Baptist, restoring the playground will be no easy task.

“We’re excited about this, even though we’re starting from the very bottom,” Mortensen said. “We are getting a new fence, new rubber mulch and a nice set of combined playground equipment.”

In order to make this happen, the entire church has contributed.

“The pumpkin patch is run entirely by our volunteers,” Smith said. “When nobody’s there, it’s the honor system. People can actually just come pick [the pumpkins] up and dump their money in the box.”

Even those who don’t volunteer to man the pumpkin stand aid in unloading the pumpkins every year.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” Smith said. “Everybody comes and you jump into a truck and sweat like a madman and you throw pumpkins down the line until they are all out. It’s a church effort, so you have a whole bunch of people: guys, girls, the elderly, the young.”

While Smith says the best part is unloading the pumpkins, he states that much more goes on behind the scenes of the pumpkin patch.

“Well, we save these pallets all year long, so we have to get them out and usually we have to have some sort of forklift or tractor or something to put the pallets where they need to be,” Smith said. “And then we just load them, put them back on the forklifts and then move them into place.”

When it comes to selling pumpkins, after 11 years, First Baptist seems to have no problem.

‘We tend to sell most all of them,” Smith said. “I know we’ve got like 1,800 pumpkins out there right now, and I mean, it’s just a small percentage that’s usually left.”

Any pumpkins the church doesn’t sell are donated.

“We’ve given them away before, and we’ve also had other churches call and say they need them so we’ve given pumpkins to them before,” Smith said.

Smith says that although the pumpkins may not be the cheapest, they certainly are worth it.

“Yeah, they are a little more expensive than what you can get at some other places, but all the money goes to a good cause,” Smith said. “So come buy some pumpkins.”

*Pumpkins can be purchased outside of First Baptist Church Hebron every day of the week. Small and medium pumpkins can be purchased for 50 cents to $2 and large as well as specialty pumpkins have prices ranging from $4 to $30.