A few weeks ago, our kind neighbors surprised the Community Foundation office with two pumpkins for our front entrance. It turns out that they purchase a bin of pumpkins at auction annually to give children and families in Horseheads. They want to make sure no child near them goes without the opportunity to carve a jack o’ lantern every Halloween.
This “pumpkin philanthropy” did more than *literally* brighten our doorstep. It was also a reminder that giving can take every possible form… even produce!
I like to consider October 31 the official kick-off to the giving season. What is more fun that giving away candy?! But after the sugar rush wears off, something much more important remains. For children, trick or treating leaves indelible memories of smiling neighbors holding giant bowls of goodies who are eager to see them in their costumes. It is that moment of connection, multiplied house by house, year after year, that builds a child’s sense of place and belonging in the community. Sure, they remember the houses that give out the full-sized candy bars well into adulthood, but what really matters is how all those neighbors made them feel: seen, special, and loved.
When you flip the calendar from October to November, try to keep that sense of giving and connection alive. Perhaps offer some of those same kids a chance to make a few dollars raking leaves or keep some hot cocoa packets handy to share on the first snow day of the school year. Ask them how things are going at school and consider attending their winter band or chorus concerts.
Friendly conversations between neighbors, much like a pair of surprise pumpkins, brighten the chilliest days. Turning those conversations into lasting relationships takes the whole experience to the next level, like adding sugar and spices to those same pumpkins to make pumpkin pie.