Piles and piles of pumpkins—thousands of them—in all shapes and sizes will go on sale starting next Saturday, October 6, as part of the annual Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch..
But these pumpkins do far more than just decorate homes or get turned into jack-o-lanterns. They will help numerous charities across the Upstate.
The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch sells more than 9,000 pumpkins each year as well as a decorated photo booth that will be available throughout the month of October. The idea for the patch began thirteen years ago as a ministry of Holy Cross Episcopal Church to support a Habitat for Humanity build. The pumpkin patch has since grown to support multiple nonprofits throughout the Upstate community donating more than $235,000 since opening in 2005.
“Our workforce is completely on volunteer basis,” said Randy Cockrill, Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch Director. “We do all we can to optimize the positive impact our patch will have within the Upstate communities.”
This year’s proceeds will be donated to Center for Community Services, Greenville Free Clinic, Greenville Literacy Association, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, James Monroe Mission House, Just Say Something (formerly Greenville Family Partnership), The Little White House and Upstate Warrior Solution.
While 100 percent of the proceeds from the patch are donated to nonprofits in the Upstate, the leftover pumpkins or pumpkins that are found to be too soft or damaged, are also donated to local animal shelters and sanctuaries that will use the pumpkins as food for the animals.
While planning for the pumpkin patch has been happening for months, the first semi full of pumpkins will be unloaded by volunteers from Holy Cross early on the morning of October 6. The patch will open for business later that morning and the fun begins.
To staff the patch seven days per week for 26 days, volunteers must cover 248 two-hour shifts. These shifts are covered primarily by folks from Holy Cross, a congregation of 500 adult members. Volunteers from other churches and community organizations also pitch in. In addition, daily opening and closing work is required.
To receive this year’s total order of 9000 pumpkins, an additional two tractor trailers will arrive at later dates. These will be unloaded by volunteers from some of the charities the Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch helps to support.
Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers (www.pumpkinsusa.com) grows the pumpkins in cooperation with the Navajo Nation. Their 1,200 acre farm employs over 700 Native Americans during September and October, as well as a full time off-season staff comprised entirely of Native Americans.
The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch is located at 109 Trade Street in front of Vaughn’s County Store in downtown Simpsonville. The hours are Monday through Friday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Cash, checks and all major credit cards are accepted.