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Pumpkins with a Purpose

Updated: Mar 17

(This article appeared in the inaugural Explore Harlingen Magazine, October 2023 issue.)

The First Methodist Church (FMC) Pumpkin Patch has been an annual fall tradition in Harlingen, Texas since 2004. Each October, the courtyard at FMC is transformed into a pumpkin lover’s paradise, with hundreds of pumpkins of various colors, shapes, and sizes strategically stacked throughout the grounds. FMC Volunteers and Journey Preschool Staff take great care into creating special backdrops for family pictures, a corn-kernel pit for smaller kids to play with, tic tac toe games, a growth chart display for children to see how tall they have grown year over year, and other fun activities. Families from Harlingen and surrounding cities all gather around the pumpkin patch each year; some visiting multiple times per season.

Photo of the patch, courtesy of First Methodist Church

However, there is a purpose behind the pumpkins that most are unaware of. The FMC Pumpkin Patch is an annual fundraiser that gives back to the community. Proceeds from the patch support the Backpacks for Hunger program, the Quentin Hale Scholarship Fund, and the Journey Preschool ministry. The Backpacks for Hunger program, which began in 2011, strives to help children who may not have food to eat at home when school is let out for the weekend. This ministry discreetly provides nutritious, child-friendly, and easy to prepare food for children to take home. This volunteer-led program helps more than 200 children per week from the following participating Harlingen schools:

● Bowie Elementary

● Ben Milam

● Coakley Middle School

● Crockett Elementary

● Lamar Elementary

● Lee Means Elementary

● Stuart Place Elementary

● Travis Elementary

● Wilson Elementary

● Zavala Elementary

“Our Church organizes this Pumpkin Patch every year because we believe in being connected to our community. It is a blessing to provide a place for families to not only pick out a pumpkin, but to play and make memories by being together. Scripture tells us, ‘Do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’ Hebrews 13:16. This is why every penny we raise goes to giving back to children and youth in our community!” said Pastor Phillip Hoeflinger.

Photo of the patch, courtesy of First Methodist Church

This year, FMC will be unveiling special day and evening themed activities during the newly established HCISD Fall Break in mid-October for families to have something special to do. Follow their Facebook page to keep up to date with announcements:

Photo of the patch, courtesy of First Methodist Church

Additionally, the FMC Pumpkin Patch hosts school field trips upon request. These field trips provide a fun experience for the children, which includes story time and an activity.

It’s always free to enter the FMC Pumpkin Patch. Pumpkins are for sale, from $1 to $40, depending on size. For special activity nights, refreshments are available for purchase.

The FMC Pumpkin Patch is open daily from October 9 through October 31, 2023, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm; Saturday, 8 am to 8 pm; and Sunday, 12 pm to 8 pm. Hours of operation are subject to change.

The FMC is located at 321 E. Harrison Ave. in Harlingen, Texas. For more information, you can contact FMC at 956-423-0540 or by email at


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