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Pickin' at the patch

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 16, 2013 at 5:16 a.m.
Updated Oct. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.

Robert Gonzales, 4, runs through the pumpkins with Eliazar Barraza, 4, in pursuit at the pumpkin patch at First United Methodist Church in Victoria.

On either side of his small, 3-year-old frame, Bo Michael Matson twirled the stems of two baby pumpkins.

He sat on the end of a wooden pew, designed with little people in mind, dangling his feet in the Wednesday morning autumn breeze.

His sister, Violet, sat on another pew a few rows up, sharing the bench with her Crain Elementary School preschool class.

The 4-year-olds bobbed up and down from their seats, excited for the storyteller at the First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch to turn the page.

When the story concluded, the children roared and applauded, eager to transition to the next leg of their field trip - playing in the pumpkin patch.

"I want a giant pumpkin," Violet, 4, shouted. "I'm going to carve a pumpkin's face on the pumpkin."

Bo Michael stepped to the side with his mother, Valerie, and headed toward the pile of the church's mini pumpkins.

His sister and the rest of the class, meanwhile, started plowing the rows of pumpkins with their hands, laughing as they ran the top of their fingers across the smooth and bumpy surfaces of orange and yellow squash and gourds.

"They love the pumpkin patch, and I let them pick out whatever pumpkin they want," Valerie Matson, 27, said. "This is fun for them because they get to see all different kinds of orange, and they get so excited."

For the 15th year, First United Methodist Church has offered a community pumpkin patch experience during the month of October.

Partnering with the Navajo Indian Reservations in New Mexico, the church accepted 2,085 pumpkins of various sizes to sell until Halloween.

A percentage of the sales returns to the reservation, while other money raised benefits Christ Kitchen, Boys and Girls Club, Light House 2911 and UMC Bridge Works.

"This is our gift to the community. It was never really supposed to be about the money; we wanted it to be an outreach for the children," said Lender Reeder, one of the original organizers of the patch.

Reeder was at the patch Wednesday assisting with sales.

"It provides a good family experience for families," she said, exchanging change with a family purchasing six pumpkins from the patch. "We have families that just come in a take pictures and leave. There's no obligation to buy anything."

Bo Michael and Violet are looking forward to Halloween in the next few weeks, especially now that they have their pumpkins.

"There are a lot of pumpkins here, and I'm going to carve mine good," Violet said.



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