A truck full of autumn orange pumpkins could raise a lot of green for the Canal Winchester Community Food Pantry, thanks to a nonprofit organization started by three teens.

The idea for Pumpkins Helping People was rooted -- literally -- in a family garden that produced too many pumpkins a few years ago. The overabundance was given away and last year, Elle, Alex and Sam Howard, ages 15, 14 and 12, respectively, decided they wanted to grow pumpkins to sell in order to raise money to support the food pantry.

But the children of Lynn Dailey and Trent Howard of Canal Winchester soon learned what most gardeners learn: Planting seeds or seedlings doesn't guarantee a good crop.

When the pumpkins didn't grow, some children would have just given up, but the Howard siblings turned to Saum Farms in Amanda to purchase their pumpkins.

"I think this is an innovative annual fundraising mechanism for the food pantry in which people can turn an annual purchase they would have made anyway into an opportunity to make the community stronger," Trent Howard said. "Our kids came up with the idea after visiting the food pantry and seeing all the good the food pantry does in the community."

Last year, the children went door-to-door to take orders. This year, they are turning to the internet to promote their project and take orders. Pumpkins Helping People -- pumpkinshelpingpeople.org -- is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

"This year we are going door-to-door to spread awareness," Elle said. "Last year we made $670, and we donated all of that to the food pantry."

The goal is to sell 200 to 300 pumpkins, she said.

Depending on size, the pumpkins sell for $10 or $15 each. When online buyers check out, they are directed to a third party that handles the financial transactions.

All proceeds from the venture will be donated to the Canal Winchester Community Food Pantry because of its work in the community.

"I think it is a great idea, and I think it is very important to help the people in need in our local community," Sam said.

His sister, Alex, agreed.

"If you want to give back, you have to help as many people as possible," she said. "We gain satisfaction that we know we are helping our community."

Pumpkins can be picked up from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the food pantry, 80 Covenant Way, Canal Winchester. The family also will deliver the pumpkins to residents in Canal Winchester and Lithopolis for a $10 fee, which also will be donated to the food pantry.

"Any donation received is wonderful, but knowing that the donation is from a group of children that have come up with the idea makes it even more special," said Malinda Sullivan, program coordinator for Canal Winchester Human Services, which operates the food pantry. "I love the inspiration and creativity behind this project."

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