Linus in the Peanuts comic strip won’t have to wait long for The Great Pumpkin to appear. Linus’ faith in the anticipated appearance in the Great Pumpkin and desire to get others to believe, too, has been compared by some to Christian evangelism.

Either way, Linus’ wish is coming true. The pumpkins have arrived.

Two tractor-trailer trucks pulled into the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Killeen on Wednesday evening. As the doors opened, volunteers began unloading an estimated 75,000 pumpkins for the church’s sixth annual Pumpkin Patch, which opened Thursday.

The pumpkins were purchased from the Navajo Indian Reservation in Farmington, N.M., where the pumpkin harvests are major contributors to the

Navajo economy.

The buying arrangement helps the church because it only pays for pumpkins that sell, so there is no risk involved with the fundraising event.

This year, the Pumpkin Patch moved from its former location in Harker Heights to the church’s parking lot at 3501 E. Elms Road in Killeen.

“The money the church raises through the Pumpkin Patch will be used to support mainly our youth programs,” Youth Pastor Cynthia Moss said.

The youth programs include vacation Bible school, which draws more than 200 children every June, and WinShape Camp, which serves another 200 children. The children’s musical service in December, a youth mission trip and the youth worship band also benefit from the fundraiser.

But it’s about more than just the fundraising. The Pumpkin Patch also is an outreach event where people can get to know their neighbors and enjoy a family-friendly, safe event in the church parking lot.

Hundreds of volunteers are needed to run the Pumpkin Patch.

“It’s really like a part-time job for a month for our volunteers,” said Mallory Den Harder, event chairman. “We have to have several volunteers here every hour of every day through Oct. 31. It’s a lot of effort by a lot of people.”

The church’s annual fall carnival is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Pumpkin Patch and includes hay rides, food, games, bounce houses, pony rides, a petting zoo and a rock wall.

Hundreds of preschool, public school and parochial school children take field trips to the Pumpkin Patch every year.

Renee’ Latham attends the carnival every year with her daughter and grandchildren. “We like to support the good things this church does, and the kids look forward to the carnival each year. They like to pick out their pumpkins and there is always a great variety of different sizes and colors. The children’s favorite thing is the hayride.”

The Pumpkin Patch is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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