Marysville Rotary's ‘Pumpkins for Literacy’ kicks off Oct. 9

LAKEWOOD — The greenery of the Plant Farm at Smokey Point was soon dotted with orange on the morning of Oct. 2, as Marysville Rotarians prepared for the return of their annual “Pumpkins for Literacy” program, which kicks off Oct. 9.

“We’ve got between 34,000-35,000 pounds of pumpkins here,” said Daryn Bundy, as he drove a forklift carrying a crate full of pumpkins out to the fields, where Rotarians and their friends and family members placed the pumpkins on the grass. “They’re ripe for the picking.”

Loren Van Loo was joined by his daughter Cassie and son Jake in lifting the pumpkins out of the crates, dropping them in wheelbarrows and spacing them out on the ground.

“It’s a fun family event,” Loren Van Loo said. “I like setting a good example for my kids.”

“This is my fourth or fifth year doing this,” said Cassie Van Loo, now 16. “It’s definitely a good cause.”

Kelly Richards, returning chair of the Pumpkin Patch, explained that this year’s goal is to net $35,000, of which $1,000 will go to each elementary school in the Marysville, Lakewood and Arlington school districts, with the rest funding the Marysville Rotary’s purchases of hard-bound dictionaries for every third-grade student throughout those school districts.

“This is all for literacy,” Richards said. “We tell people there’s no admission cost, other than the price of the pumpkins they buy.”

Pumpkin prices range from $2 for small pumpkins to $12 for the largest ones, although Richards emphasized that they were willing to work with families on the prices. He praised pumpkin farmer Loyd Frazier for keeping them stocked with fresh pumpkins.

“Loyd says he has plenty, so we shouldn’t expect a shortage,” Richards said.

“This is kind of new for me,” said Eric Spencer, managing librarian of the Marysville Library, as he hauled pumpkins out for display for the first time this year. “I’m all in favor of getting dictionaries in the hands of kids. It not only helps them with vocabulary words, but it’s also a good entry point for them to learn how to use libraries. Dictionaries and encyclopedias are the first reference tools kids use.”

The Plant Farm at Smokey Point is located at 15022 Twin Lakes Ave. The Pumpkin Patch is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 9-31.

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