"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Project Pumpkin raises record sum

The annual event brings local children to Wake Forest’s campus
Evan Harris
Local children come to campus for Project Pumpkin.

Project Pumpkin announced that its annual event this Tuesday raised a record $6,000 for the Wake Forest University Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. 

Project Pumpkin was started in 1988 by Libby Bell (‘93). The event brings local children to the fall festival on Hearn Plaza and is the result of a partnership between Wake Forest, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Schools and other local agencies. Alongside giving attendees the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, Project Pumpkin also raises money for the Freedom School — a free, six-week, literacy-based summer program for third through fifth grade students. 

“I’ve tutored for the Freedom School and seen how impactful this literacy programming is for local kids,” Project Pumpkin set designer Lauren Walston (‘24) said. 

The quad was a joyful place to be on Thursday. From the beaming excitement of volunteers to the contagious smiles of hundreds of children, the Wake Forest community relished in this annual event. 

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“It is my third year in Project Pumpkin, and I cherish the opportunities it has given me to interact with the Winston-Salem community,” senior director of Project Pumpkin Alyssa Goldstein (‘24) said.

This year’s theme was “Under the Sea,” and volunteers transformed the quad into a vibrant underwater scene through the use of decorations and music.

“The themes are thoughtfully curated every year,” volunteer coordinator Couriyah Stegall said. 

Project Pumpkin hosts countless volunteers every year —  including committee chairs, escorts to accompany the children from booth to booth and transportation coordinators. Organizers partnered with eight to 10 local elementary schools and after-school programs, therefore a considerable amount of planning went into making the event so special this year. 

“Project Pumpkin has been in the works since May, so it’s been a long time coming,” Walston said. 

Student organizations hosted booths as spaces for the children to take candy, engage in games and build connections with students. Walston expressed that feedback from attendees reminds her of the importance of the event. 

“It’s parents coming up to us to thank us that really affirms we are building that bridge between the Wake Forest and the Winston-Salem community,” Walston said. “Project Pumpkin is all about Pro Humanitate and Wake Forest’s tradition of service.” 

Project Pumpkin has not always been able to be hosted on campus. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was hosted in virtual and hybrid formats in 2020 and 2021. 

“It means so much to be able to watch Project Pumpkin transition out of the restrictions that COVID put on the event,” Walston said. “As a senior, it makes me sad to leave knowing that it is just going to get bigger and bigger every year [without me].”

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