Seed of an idea pays off for Perham youth group
A sea of pumpkins floated before Erin Anderson's eyes. The director of youth ministry of Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, Minn., had accepted an interesting invitation last spring, and his youth groups were reaping the benefits. Rich and Carol ...
A sea of pumpkins floated before Erin Anderson's eyes.
The director of youth ministry of Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, Minn., had accepted an interesting invitation last spring, and his youth groups were reaping the benefits.
Rich and Carol Bucholz of Perham offered four acres of their land as a fundraising opportunity for Anderson.
"My husband is a farmer," Carol Bucholz said. "So if there is any piece of land open, my husband will think of something to plant.
"It's a wonderful youth group," she said. "It's our way of giving them something."
Calvary's youth group planted pumpkin seeds, and the Bucholzes fertilized and irrigated.
Come harvest time, Anderson couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"There were thousands and thousands of pumpkins," he said. "We thought, 'What are we going to do with these?' "
So "Pumpkins for Purpose" was born.
Anderson and community leader Craig Swanson began contracting with local gas stations to sell part of their crop. A business in Wadena, Minn., offered to buy 10 pallets of pumpkins - about 500 of them.
The youth group still had a patch of pumpkins to peddle.
"We decided we didn't want to be out selling and taking the money just for us," Anderson said. "There's got to be a mission behind it."
Area youth group leaders came up with a plan. Ten percent of the profits would remain in the Perham community, to contribute to local causes. Another 10 percent would go to disaster relief in the area. And they donated
90 pumpkins for carving purposes to a local Habitat for Humanity group.
"The youth will have ownership of where that money goes," Anderson said.
Both Bucholz and Anderson credit Swanson with a lot of the footwork for the pumpkin project.
"He has been on fire for this thing," Anderson said.
"Once both Craig and Erin got their heads together, all these other people wanted to get on board," Bucholz said. "You have to have people that click, and you have to have the people that want to make it grow."
Even though the crop yielded an extraordinary number of pumpkins, the youth ministry group found themselves empty handed by the end of September.
"The response has been tremendous," Anderson said. "It was rapid, and it was fierce. Anything seasonal like that is rapid. But I never thought we would be out."
Calvary's youth group is already looking into expanding for next year.
"Apparently, pumpkins were down this year," Anderson said. "They were going for $8 a pumpkin in Chicago. It's certainly gotten us exploring what our options are."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5509 Seed of an idea pays off for Perham youth group Kim Winnegge 20071006