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Volunteers from the City Dream Centre place pumpkins on the field at W.E. Kinvig Elementary on Oct. 27. The organization brought more than 1,800 pumpkins for pop-up patches at Lena Shaw, J.T. Brown, Prince Charles and W.E. Kinvig elementary schools.
If our students can’t go to the pumpkin patch, we bring the pumpkin patch to them! Thanks to the generosity of the City Dream Centre, several inner city elementary schools in our district will have their school fields transformed into fun and safe pumpkin patches.
This week, Lena Shaw, J.T. Brown, Prince Charles and W.E. Kinvig elementary schools will have onsite pumpkin patches, made possible by volunteers from the City Dream Centre and local community churches, with pumpkins donated from local farmers. The City Dream Centre is a non-profit organization that supports underprivileged and vulnerable populations in the Lower Mainland, and has worked with and supported all four of these schools in the past through other initiatives.
“City Dream Centre is a longstanding partner of the Surrey School District, where they have helped support many of our school communities, in a variety of ways,” said Laurie Larsen, Chair of the Surrey Board of Education. “This pumpkin patch opportunity was another way that City Dream Centre volunteers were able to come together to provide a special experience for students at the participating schools.
“Although field trips to the local pumpkin patch were not possible this year due to the pandemic, City Dream Centre was able to help bring the pumpkin patch experience directly to the schools and students. Thank you to City Dream Centre, their volunteers, and the pumpkin providers for helping this opportunity take place.”
The pumpkin patches have been set up by volunteers, following COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing PPE. After the volunteers leave, students have the opportunity to explore the pumpkin patches in their cohorts and pick a pumpkin to take home.
“When we heard that schools were unable to do their usual field trips to the pumpkin patch, we knew we wanted to do something to help,” said Loretta Hibbs, Founder and President of City Dream Centre. “While some kids would still get there with their own families, we knew that for the inner city schools, that likely wouldn't be the case. We started by contacting the local growers, as well as the Newton Superstore and we ended up with a generous donation from each of them.
“In the end, we only had to purchase 320 of the 1,820 pumpkins that we needed to cover four schools, and even that expense was covered by our supporters. We then put the word out to our volunteer email list and coordinated teams, trucks and drivers to get everything where it needed to go. We have loved putting this together and hope that it has been lots of fun for the kids.”
Jas Atwal, principal of W.E. Kinvig Elementary, said volunteers brought 300 pumpkins for his students to pick. He noted inner city schools don’t always have the ability to fundraise for offsite trips, so having these opportunities at school is a great way for all students to still have this seasonal experience.
“It opens the doors for a field trip right in your backyard,” he said. “The City Dream Centre is well aware of W.E. Kinvig Elementary and the need we have in our community. It’s wonderful cooperation that they have with us.”
Sean Chambers, principal of Lena Shaw Elementary, said the school is extremely grateful, knowing that some students’ families could not afford to visit a pumpkin patch on their own.
“I actually had a number of teachers message me,” he said. “I felt the elation and the gratitude from the staff about this activity being provided to our kids. This is a wonderful, heartfelt, positive opportunity amongst some of the anxieties going on in schools.”