Some South Dakota inmates share garden pumpkins with local third graders
By Tia Heidebrecht, Chief Photographer - bio | email
The inmates have been growing pumpkins to give to area third graders.
YANKTON, S.D. (KTIV) -
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.
"We deliver 404," Paul Wentzlaff, an inmate said.
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 at the garden," Wentzlaff said.
The pumpkins are picked and washed.
"We treat them with a little bit of water and bleach. It keeps the bacteria and bugs off of 'em, that's how they stay so fresh and shiny," Wentzlaff said.
After a quick trip in the trailer, these pumpkins are ready for their new owners.
"Once you get down from the bottom step, it's okay to run to the pumpkins," Robin Brooks, a Webster Elementary teacher said.
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," Brooks said.
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," Brooks said.
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," Carey Mitzel, a Beadle Elementary principal said.
No matter the size, the memory of picking out a pumpkin and proudly taking it home will last forever.
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