Reaching out to homeless people across the state, Pathfinders is asking for Inverell’s help for its fourth annual Pumpkin Run.
With less than a month to go before the altruistic road trip, the service is seeking six tonnes of pumpkins to be cooked into hearty meals for those in need, after their own crop failed.
“We cook up pumpkin soup at every stop that we do and it’s usually targeted at the homeless,” Inverell Pathfinders specialist homelessness worker Ashleigh Taylor said.
“They can come along, have something to eat, have a chat to us and meet the local services along the way.”
Leaving mid-June, Pathfinders staff and a group of youth volunteers will travel through Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Taree and Newcastle with the pumpkins, finishing at Sydney’s Government House on June 29.
Ms Taylor is preparing for her first run this year, and said she was nervous but excited.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said.
Fellow local Todd Cross has been on the run before, and said the highlight for him was making lunch for homeless people in Sydney.
“It was a really, really good experience,” he said.
“Just talking to the people and hearing some of their stories and how they got into the position that they’re in.”
“It’s a really great experience for the kids that come along with us as well - giving back to the wider community and helping others out,” he added.
Planted at Armidale’s Tillbuster Station by staff members and at-risk youth in the Pathfinders Pathways Out-of-Home Care program, two fields of pumpkins meant for the trip have died due to wet weather, heat waves, cold conditions and undeveloped seedlings.
Pathfinders CEO Alan Brennan said that although the group was devastated by the loss, they were determined to keep the run going with the help of donations from the region.
“The Pumpkin Run is a highlight for many of the young people we care for. They are delighted that we’re doing everything in our power to make sure the run is a go this year,” he said.
Tilbuster Station Officer Tom Kalinowski said it would be exciting to see Pathfinders come together with donors, volunteers and partners for the cause.
Pathfinders have already received over 200 pumpkins from donors, and the non-profit is welcoming pumpkin donations along with other vegetables with a strong shelf life.
To donate, contact Noelia on 0429371489 or firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate pick ups. Produce can also be dropped off at 3 Glen Innes Road.