Jesse Lee Church is creating its first ever Homemade Pumpkin Patch. This weekend, the patch started to take shape when volunteers “planted” 250 of these plywood beauties in the patch. Three hundred more will be planted in time for the Oct. 17 grand opening.

“There are 400 more pumpkins waiting in the wings to replenish our supply until every one of the plywood pumpkins are sold over the next two weekends to help raise money for COVID relief for the Navajo Nation,” said Heidi Yeranossian, communications manager for Jesse Lee Church. “People can also support this cause by texting ‘GIVE’ to 203-349-6853 and select “Navajo Donations” to contribute.”

“For the past 30 years, one of Jesse Lee Church’s biggest, and most popular, annual fundraisers is our pumpkin patch full of gorgeous gourds grown by our Navajo mission partners,” said the Rev. Dr. Bill Pfohl, Jesse Lee’s senior pastor. “This year, we had to cancel our pumpkin order because we couldn’t unload our pumpkins off the truck and maintain CDC social distancing requirements. Our determination to raise money for COVID relief for the hard-hit Navajo Nation fueled our efforts to make 950 homemade plywood pumpkins.”

There will be decoration stations available in the patch on a first come, first served basis where these homemade pumpkins can be transformed into works of art with colorful paint and Sharpie markers, glitter, glue and unlimited imaginations. People can also take their pumpkins home to decorate if they prefer and bring them back to enter the Best Pumpkin Contest. Celebrity judges, i95FM morning drive DJs, Ethan Carey and Lou Milano, will pick the best painted pumpkin in the patch on Oct. 25, at 3 p.m.

In addition to raising money for the Navajo Nation, the church also wants to raise awareness of the Navajos’ history and the impact COVID has had on them, and all indigenous people, through the church’s Museum-in-the-Street exhibit on the edge of the patch.

“We created our homemade pumpkin patch to give Ridgefielders a safe way to enjoy this time-honored fall tradition while simultaneously helping the Navajo battle the coronavirus,” said Pfohl.

To keep everyone safe in the pumpkin patch, the church asks people to wear masks and maintain safe social distancing. Decoration stations can be enjoyed by groups who all live in the same house. Each station will be cleaned and sanitized between groups.

Small pumpkins cost $10, mediums are $20 and large ones are $30. There is no charge for using the decoration stations.