Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gutting 100 Pumpkins

Time has come for kids to head back to school so here’s one for all the P.T.O or P.T.A. parents out there looking for creative ways to raise funds for their children’s school. The idea is to sell “designer, pre-carved, scented pumpkins.”

Stay with me here, we’ve done this and it was pretty successful.

Several years ago when my oldest son was in fifth grade his class needed to raise money to go on an overnight camping trip. The camp was called “Mystic Lake” hence the name of the fundraiser I’m going to describe which was called “Mystic Pumpkins.”

The cost of the trip was several thousand dollars and ideas were needed to raise the money.

To make a long story short the fifth grade teacher came to me saying that she had come across a deal where a local pumpkin farm would sell her 100+ pumpkins for a very fair price and she wondered if we could sell them as some sort of fundraiser. After thinking about the idea for an evening I came up with the concept of selling pumpkins that were already cleaned, carved, preserved and scented.

Here’s the lowdown on what went into making this fundraiser work.

First we had about 100 good sized jack-O’-lantern sized pumpkins to work with. I created some thirty different designs and transferred the designs to the pumpkins before they were gutted. I created stencils from sheets of plastic used for overhead projectors and used a permanent marker to transfer the designs to the surface of the pumpkins.

The weekend before the sale we enlisted the help of the fifth graders and cut the top and gutted all of the pumpkins. To help preserve the pumpkins we cleaned the interior of the gutted pumpkin with a mild bleach solution and coated the lid with petroleum jelly to reduce any rotting.

The pumpkins were then priced according to size, the larger the pumpkin the higher the price. During the two hour sale customers could choose the pumpkin they wanted then we would carve out the pre-traced design using an electric jigsaw. Once the pumpkin was carved we scented the lid with the customer’s choice of scent, either cinnamon or clove. When a lit candle was place in the pumpkin the heat from the candle made the scent sprinkled on the lid fill the room with a great autumn aroma.

The fundraiser was a success and involved a lot of volunteers but it was unique and received much positive feedback. In addition to carving the pumpkins we also saved all the seeds, roasted them and sold them in individual packages. The seeds were sold in two flavors; regular and hot and spicy using a tremendous amount of Tabasco Sauce as the heat.

· 1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds

· 2 teaspoons butter, melted

· 1 pinch salt (plus any other spices such as garlic powder, seasoned salt, Mrs. Dash seasoning, Tabasco Sauce or Crushed Red Pepper)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

2. Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt (and other spices). Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

Bottom line, this was a fun and creative fundraiser…think pumpkin sales the next time you are faced with the challenge of raising money for your child’s school. Have fun and be creative!


Ghoulie Girls said...

And you think I'm crazy?! Gutting and carving 100+ pumpkins? Oye vey!



Dixie said...

THAT must be what it is like to go to school with Elvis' kid, or The Presidents kids, or something like that... I mean STOLLOWEEN helping the PTA with PUMPKINS?!?!? Ridiculously lucky school!
(Fantastic job by the way - love the patterns)

The Frog Queen said...

Oh, what a creative idea! I agree with Dixie - having you help with the PTA around Halloween. Yeah, that is rock star treatment!!

Do you mind if I borrow this idea (not on this scale of course) for my dancers? We are looking for more ways to raise money for them at our open house.



Thanks everyone! Frog Queen by all means use the idea, that's why I posted it.

I posted the same blog over at Hauntspace and answered some additional questions:

If you have any questions give me a shout!


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