Jamie Loveall is the executive director of Natrona County Meals on Wheels — and this month, she’s also the Great Pumpkin of her pumpkin patch.
We talked with her about a fun October fundraiser that begins Monday.
How did Pumpkins for a Purpose come about? This is the third annual. We were involved with Green Acres Corn Maze for two years and they sold pumpkins there. The way we promote is a small pumpkin costs $5 and feeds a senior for one meal, medium-sized pumpkins are $10 and serves two seniors and a large pumpkin for $15 serves three seniors. It’s a way to incorporate buying meals for a senior by purchasing a pumpkin for Halloween, Thanksgiving; it’s just a fun fall fundraiser.
And there is not a ton involved? Sometimes fundraisers can be very consuming when it comes to time and effort. Other than lifting the pumpkins into the truck, this is a very simple way to not put too much work in.
And the pumpkins are Wyoming grown? They come from that big pumpkin patch out in Riverton, Sun Harvest Seasons. The first year we had no idea how many we would sell and we sold 1,100 pumpkins, so we had to make three or four trips. We sold almost 900 last year and we would like to break 1,100 this year. As we choose the pumpkins, we look for the biggest ones we can find because those make the most money for us, but the kiddos love to come get little ones because they’re easy for them to carry. Our whole front yard is turned into a pumpkin patch for the whole month.
And this “little” fundraiser is pretty profitable? We pay the seller a flat fee, no matter the size, and he gives them to us at a pretty discounted rate. We raised $8,000 the first year and $6,000 last year.
And there is an outreach aspect as well? Having it here, it engages people who normally wouldn’t come to the facility. I love to give tours, and if somebody wants to come and see the facility, that’s awesome.
And there are a lot of folks who need your meals? One hundred percent of the money we raise goes directly to buying food for our seniors. We just ended our year the end of September. Last year, we served 175,339 meals in Natrona County. With unduplicated numbers, we served roughly 730 clients. Meals served and client numbers were up from last year and the year before that. We surpassed last year by just over 4,000 meals served.
What are the hours for the patch? Hours of operation at our facility, 1760 E. 12th St., will be Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31. Pumpkins will be $5 for a small, $10 for a medium and $15 for a large. Specialty pumpkins will be available in limited quantities. For more information or questions, please call the office at 265-8659 or visit us on the web at www.mealswheels.com. Find us on Facebook under Natrona County Meals On Wheels.