Inmates provide pumpkins for kids - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Inmates provide pumpkins for kids

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Like toy soldiers they wait, trying to remain patient in a single file line. Not far away, the pumpkins wait too. Soon, the most recognizable sign of fall will fill a child's arms.

These particular pumpkins are grown at the Yankton Minimum Security Unit garden.

For the past ten years, the inmates have been growing pumpkins to give to area third graders.

"We're putting something back into the community here as inmates. Working in the garden," said Paul Wentzlaff, an inmate.

The pumpkins are picked and washed.

"We treat them with a little bit of water and bleach. It keeps the bacteria and bugs off, so that's how they stay so fresh and shiny," said Wentzlaff.

After a quick trip in the trailer, these pumpkins are ready for their new owners. And, most of the kids know exactly what they want. But, there is one condition.

"The deal they have with the school is they can take whatever pumpkin they want, but they have to be able to carry it," said Wentzlaff.

The weight of the pumpkin often has a far weightier meaning.
"It's big for their life. It's big to get a pumpkin. A lot wouldn't get one of their own if it weren't for this donation," said Webster Elementary teacher Robin Brooks.

From one school to the next, more pumpkins are set for new homes and more smiles are settling in. This is a day no child wants to miss.

"That's one of the reasons they look forward to coming to school. So having a five, ten minute break to get pumpkins makes their day, and it will be something they remember," said Beadle Elementary Principal Carey Mitzel.

No matter the size, the memory of picking out a pumpkin and proudly taking it home will last forever.



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