2020 “Virtual” Pumpkin Patch Fights Hunger in NJ
Church invites community to “empty the patch and help fill plates”
For 13 years, each October The Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township (PCCT) has filled its lawn on Southern Boulevard with colorful pumpkins and gourds that it sold to the public. Through this all-volunteer effort, the church annually donated 100 percent of the proceeds to worthy non-profit organizations focused on tackling hunger and need.
But 2020 is a different kind of year.
“We reluctantly determined that sponsoring the Pumpkin Patch this year could not be done safely for the community and our volunteers,” said The Rev. Tom Brown, Associate Pastor of the church. “However, the congregation felt strongly that we should continue our long-standing commitment to provide food and hope to those who are most vulnerable. We’re adapting our tradition, and we welcome our neighbors to join in helping the neediest among us.”
Instead of selecting vine-ripened pumpkins and taking them home, members of the community are invited to make tax-deductible donations to fight hunger and take home pumpkin-themed lawn signs that recognize their contributions. A “patch” of signs will be arrayed on the church’s front lawn just as pumpkins were in prior years. The congregation hopes donors’ signs on their own lawns will heighten awareness of food insecurity and encourage additional contributions.
The Virtual Pumpkin Patch will begin Oct. 10 and continue to the end of the month, unless the patch is emptied sooner. All proceeds will go to two local non-profit organizations, and be divided equally between them:
nourish.NJ in Morristown (formerly known as The Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center) creates lasting solutions to the problems of hunger, homelessness and poverty. It offers food, housing, work readiness, medical, social and educational services 365 days a year, free of charge, no questions asked.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside is the state’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. It engages, educates and empowers all sectors of society to assist those in need.
According to the Community FoodBank, in New Jersey 8.7 percent of residents were food insecure before Covid-19, a figure projected to rise to 13.5 percent because of the pandemic. For children in the state, the figures are 11.3 percent and 19.7 percent.
Community members can help fight hunger by making a donation to the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township. The church suggests contributing as much as you would have paid for pumpkins in previous years. There are several ways to donate:
- Text GIVE to 973.524.7580
- Pay by credit card (visit pcct-nj.org/give)
- Mail a check payable to PCCT to 240 Southern Blvd., Chatham, NJ, 07928. On the memo line enter Pumpkin Patch
Call PCCT at 973.635.2340 with questions or for more details.
After donating, contributors can pick up a sign on the church’s front lawn at 240 Southern Blvd. in Chatham Township. Church members look forward to the signs leaving the church grounds and popping up in neighborhoods throughout the area, just as pumpkins did in the past.
“The need in New Jersey is great and growing,” said Rev. Brown. “Our community has always been a generous one. We invite all who want to fight hunger to help us empty the Virtual Pumpkin Patch and fill plates with nourishing food.”
The Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township is a vibrant, multi-generational congregation that celebrates the glory of God through faith, fellowship and service. Drawing members from three counties and more than 20 communities, it welcomes all, whether you are a young family, a single adult, or a couple with grown children. The congregation reflects diverse perspectives, provides rich music and education programs for all ages, and through social outreach addresses hunger, homelessness and recovery from disasters or other crises.