SUMTER, S.C. — For the 22nd year, Aldersgate United Methodist Church is hosting a pumpkin patch.
"We eat, breathe, live pumpkins the entire month of October," said Brooke Staniec, the event and office manager for the Sumter church. "When I started last year, I was like 'How, how big can a little pumpkin patch be? I mean it can't be that hard."
The little pumpkin patch she’s talking about is filled with nearly 5,000 pumpkins along with scarecrows and a photo area outside of the church.
"It is that hard. It takes that much work," Staniec laughed. "It takes a whole village and it's just so fun. We have so much fun with each other and knowing where it goes obviously makes it even better."
This local staple is about more than just getting festive - it's a way to give back to the community. 100 percent of the sales are going to local organizations.
Last year, the church raised about $14,000 for Sumter United Ministries and Christian Charities. In addition to supporting the community through fundraising, it also provides opportunities for almost 1,000 kids who come out for free field trips.
Sheila Bradley is the 4k lead teacher at Warth Child Care. On Tuesday, she took her preschoolers out for the first field trip of the season.
"I was like, 'Wow, is that real pumpkin patch here in Sumter?.And I was like, "Maybe I can get my kids to come here," Bradley explained. "We love the church. We love the fun, the stories, the pumpkin patch, we love the people here."
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Pastor Laura Whitt tells me it’s the people that matter. This is the 22nd year the church is holding the event.
"You get to see people who came on field trips as children that are now bringing their children back," Whitt said. "This is a way we choose to interact with our community each year."
The patch will be open all month. On Oct. 8, the church will be hosting a Pumpkin Palooza community event with food trunks from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.