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In Time for Halloween

The Los Altos High School Booster Club in Los Altos, California has been hosting a Pumpkin Patch fundraiser for three decades. This year the club raised between $8,000 and $9,000 selling pumpkins to the community.

By Sherri Bakos
President, Los Altos High School Athletic Booster Club
Los Altos High School
Los Altos, California

Our school has been hosting a Pumpkin Patch fundraiser for almost 30 years, and it's become a community tradition. We typically make about $7,000 on the low end and as much as $20,000 on the high end. This year we made between $8,000 and $9,000 as the cost for pumpkins was up from previous years.

We buy the pumpkins at wholesale. It would be great to find someone who would donate them, but we haven't been able to. We've been using the same local farm, Spina Farms, from San Jose, California.

We put together the patch in the corner of the high school parking lot. We get an RV and we park it there. The school loans a table, pop-up tents, and some chairs. Some neighbors next to the school let us hook up an extension cord to their house for power.

We buy some hay and cornstalks, and set up a makeshift pumpkin patch. The pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and we spread them throughout the patch to make it look appealing and fun.

The high school is located in the heart of the community and we are down the street from elementary schools and preschools. So we get a lot of traffic. In addition, a lot of preschools and elementary schools come for field trips.

We sell little pumpkins of all different sizes and at different prices. The biggest pumpkin we sell is $15. The smallest cost $1. The younger kids can bring a few dollars and buy one and bring it back to their classroom to decorate.

Parent volunteers staff the fundraiser. We usually start two Fridays before Halloween. Each sports team has a day to sell pumpkins, and the larger teams get as many as three days that they have to staff. We usually slot the parents and kids into two-hour shifts.

The challenge is finding a parent that will sleep in the RV each night to protect the pumpkins. I am exploring some other options such as wireless camera surveillance. We also have the local police make the rounds to keep an eye on things.

We have been doing this so long that our main draw is through word of mouth and tradition. But we still reach out to the local community. The K through 8 schools include the fundraiser in their weekly newsletters. We also get great support from the school and the district with regular email messages to all of our parent community. And our local paper, The Town Crier, gives us free coverage.


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