A pumpkin-decorating contest that included reading favorite books also collected hundreds of canned goods to assist Killeen ISD families in need.

The eight fourth-grade classes at Mountain View Elementary School each came up with a pumpkin design to illustrate a favorite book. A combination of students, teachers and parents worked on the creative pumpkin decorations.

Each pumpkin drew votes in the form of donated canned goods to benefit the KISD Homeless Awareness Response Program.

Each class kept track of their escalating number of votes. Some used graphs to show their rising totals. The collection continued throughout the week, with the classes collecting about 700 food items by the end of the drive Nov. 3.

Fourth-graders said they enjoyed the books, the decorating and especially, acquiring the cans for neighbors in need.

Joseph Johnson and Rebekah Koh represented a class that decorated a bright pink and a bright blue pumpkin like the characters from the “Trolls” books. They also used a song as part of their display.

“I think it’s a very good idea because students are helping people in need,” Koh said.

The project, Johnson said, also related to lessons about financial literacy regarding spending, saving and giving. “We’re showing how you can share,” he said.

Another class decorated pumpkins in the theme of the book and movie “Up” and included balloons that carried the house away in the story.

“I’m glad we had a chance to paint pumpkins,” said Saniyah Williams. “We had fun and we didn’t think about the competition.”

Two classes chose the book “Wonder,” a popular current novel soon to be released as a movie.

“We enjoy reading the book. It inspires us,” said Caroline Lueg. Her class is reading the book together.

Marek Lynn and Deztiny Houser showed their pumpkin decorated for a book they called “Dog Man,” though the actual title was a lot longer. They used paper doughnuts to illustrate the project.

“It’s a good project because we can help everyone,” Houser said. “We have money and other people don’t so we like to help.”

“Wonder is about kindness,” said Aashia Patel, representing another class that used the popular book in their design. She explained the main character’s friends who stood by him while others made fun of his appearance.

Another class decorated a pumpkin in the theme of a book called “The BFG,” the big, friendly giant. “It took a whole class to pull this off,” said Fabian Robledo. The project, he said, was making a difference in people’s lives.

“It took a lot of work,” Robledo said, “and it was worth it because it was fun and it took teamwork and it gave us hope.”

One class made a tin man from the “Wizard of Oz.” Abigail Wire and Isabel Mendoza said students stayed after school to make the pumpkin, which included using spray paint outside.

Another class designed a pumpkin to look like “Harry Potter.” Their work, students said, helped people in need.

School counselor Claudia Beauchamp explained that the third, fourth and fifth grade classes all have plans for service projects. “We’ve always done service,” she said. “We need to give back. This has been a team effort.”

Fourth-grade teacher Kym Van Bibber said her students discussed books that would make good pumpkins, but their decision was more about the book they found most meaningful, “Wonder.”

She said the project tied in math and reading as well as community service and it also built community within the class.

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