Photography by Dianne Carroll Burdick
Kentwood — Rows of hundreds of pumpkins waiting to be picked is an exciting sight for 4- and 5-year-olds.
Young Fives students at Glenwood Elementary wiggled, jumped up and down and practically burst with joy as they waited to choose a gourd from their schoolyard. All students in the pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade school got to pick out a pumpkin to decorate and keep.
“I can put all these stickers on mine,” said Ma’Khari Sneed, as he placed witch- and cat-shaped stickers on his pumpkin. “I like my pumpkin! I can hold mine.”
The Glenwood pumpkin patch was a way for students to enjoy the popular fall activity at their own school. For many years, students have gone on field trips to local farms.
“This year, we are bringing the pumpkin patch here,” said Principal Jenny Graham.
Parents visited during a scheduled after-school time slot, allowing for interaction that didn’t happen last year due to pandemic restrictions.
The pumpkin patch was supported by Glenwood’s partnership with Providence Christian Reformed Church, said Kent School Services Network coordinator Madison Rhodes. The church, at 7730 Eastern Ave. SE, has stepped up as a community partner to support Glenwood in many ways. One of its members donated many of the pumpkins from his produce company.
The church is also collecting socks for “Socktober” to help Glenwood stock school closets with socks and underwear. Rhodes said students often come to school without socks during the winter and end up with cold feet or are uncomfortable going outside for recess.
“We go through socks like crazy, and sometimes those are needs you don’t even consider,” Rhodes said. “Especially as the cold winter months come, (these items) keep our kids feeling more comfortable and having more fun on the playground.”
Church members also mentor students as part of Kids Hope, based in Zeeland, which provides one-on-one volunteer mentors to area students.
“Providence is so passionate about supporting Glenwood students and families however we can because part of our mission as Christians is to love our neighbors,” said Megan Van Goor, director of outreach and Kids Hope USA for Providence CRC. “In our partnership with Glenwood, we get to fulfill that mission in various ways: we mentor kids that need a little extra love through our Kids Hope USA program, send meals home with students through our Hand2Hand program and provide clothing and other needs through clothing drives like Socktober.”Rhodes said the partnership also fulfils the mission of KSSN: “It really centers the community school model we are trying to instill.”