Pumpkin Path event smashes fundraising goal for Jasper Food Bank

·3 min read

Organizers of the Pumpkin Path event on Oct. 30 at Centennial Park are over the moon about how it all turned out.

The attendance and the money raised far exceeded expectations, Anna De Clercq, Community Outreach Services (COS) teen outreach worker, said in an email.

A total of $6,500 was raised that night, a combination of cash donations at the gate, a $2,000 donation from the Jasper Rotary Club and a $2,001 donation from a generous unnamed community member.

"The teens were vibrating and jumping up and down with excitement as the donations came in on Friday. It was the most incredible surprise," De Clercq said.

The Pumpkin Path replaced the Youth Community Helpers’ annual Trick or Eat event, cancelled due to the pandemic.

Instead, the youth group and the Jasper Rotary Club created a clever way to support the food bank and work within COVID protocol at the same time.

Teens, Rotarians and community members carved pumpkins - 72 in all - that lined the pathway that wound through the Centennial Park, lit with bright lights.

Huge Halloween-featured creatures including an inflatable cat and a dragon added to the mood.

And the rock wall was lined with pumpkins and other festive decorations, many of which were dropped by friends and neighbours to add to the spooky forest setting.

Keandra Gruys, a member of the Youth Community Helpers, said, the Pumpkin Path was "a kind of last minute thing".

She said the group was on the verge of not having anything happening, but having taken part in Trick or Eat for five years, they still wanted to do something for the food bank. The Youth Community Helpers got together at school on Oct. 30 and then headed to Centennial Park to set up the Pumpkin Path.

"Our goal was to raise $500 and it really surpassed that," Gruys said.

"We're amazed that people of all ages attended. During these uncertain times we're so grateful we can get together to raise money for the Jasper Food Bank. It was a pretty big success. We were all just so surprised.

"On behalf of everyone who was (part) of this event, we'd like to thank the entire community for coming and supporting the food bank."

De Clercq is equally grateful.

"We are so fortunate to live in such a generous and supportive community,” she said.

“TGP Jasper gave us a deal on the pumpkins, Rotary paid for them.

"This money will help the Jasper Food Bank to continue the important work that it does all year long, supporting families and individuals when they need it most."

Jean-Marie Hannaford, Jasper Food Bank manager, said The Pumpkin Path was an incredible idea. "All the decorations and pumpkins looked amazing," she said.

"A huge thank you to everyone involved and everyone who came out to support the Jasper Food Bank. We really appreciate it, and the generosity of those who donated.

"The shocking amount raised will go a long way to helping a lot of people."

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh