When I was talking to Rochester Hills Musuem director Pat McKay about his great supply of leftover pumpkins after a very rainy Stonewall Pumpkin Festival the wheels in my head started turning.
I love the museum and festival but my family already had our four pumpkins and, honestly, we didn't need any more. I wondered what I could do to help out one of my favorite institutions. If we don't need pumpkins, who does?
Somewhere in that wheel-turning came the memory of when we "adopted" a family for Easter. The mom of that family gave me a list of food she needed. At the end of our conversation she said, "I feel kind of silly asking but is there any way we could also get an extra dozen eggs. My kids have never decorated Easter eggs and I would love it if they could this year."
I was floored. Why shouldn't every kid make a mess decorating eggs then hunt for them Easter morning?
It's simple. If you cannot feed your family how could you spend money on something so frivolous as Easter eggs — or a carving pumpkin.
And just like that, I knew what I could do.
Enter the food pantry
The Rochester Area Neighborhood House Food Pantry has been feeding families in need since 1967. That first year they serviced 19 families. In 2011 they serviced 1,537. They are totally supported by donations.
I called Neighborhood House Food Pantry director Lorraine Kremer and asked if they would be interested in some donated pumpkins to pass on to their families. I had purchased four from the museum, one for each member of my family.
"Absolutely!" was her answer.
"The kids, they miss so much. Sometimes even their own birthdays," Kremer said. "These pumpkins would be a warm fuzzy for our kids."
The Food Pantry sometimes has as many as 17 families come in a day so the pumpkins will get used — and be appreciated."
"Once we had someone donate some extra Mardi Gras beads and you should have seen those little girls with them. The lit up, they just sparkled when we gave them those beads," Kremer said.
"I wish you could be here to see the smiles when they get to take home a pumpkin."
How to donate
While Pat McKay said pumpkin sales have been "brisk" this week and he's actually starting to see some grass again in that field, he still has hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins left.
Pumpkins can be purchased, large for $5 and small for $2, at the museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sunday.
The Neighborhood House Food Pantry is housed at First Congregational Church on Pine Street. You can call ahead to make a pumpkin donation at 248-656-4909 or just leave your pumpkins at the door.
And if you are interested in making a food donation, there is significant need for:
- tuna fish
- hot chocolate
"I remember when I was little; we carved pumpkins every year," Kremer said. "It's a family event."
And so it should be.