On Oct. 3 and 4, Hope Harvest Festival held its annual pumpkin patch to benefit “cancer warriors” in San Benito County. Because of COVID-19, the nonprofit group hosted a drive-thru event in the Hollister KMart parking lot.
Hope Harvest Festival founding board member Tami Cook-Erickson said that the pumpkin patch had over 200 cars come through the parking lot each day, many loaded with passengers.
But following the event, Hope Harvest suffered a loss: pumpkins left out overnight to be picked up the next morning went missing. A press release from the nonprofit said an individual posted on social media that the pumpkins were free, and as a result “all of the stored pumpkins were stolen.”
“It’s unfortunate, we had leased the property, and the value of the pumpkins was $4,000 and already earmarked for other customers,” the release stated. “It wasn’t the way we wanted to end our successful weekend but it happened nonetheless. We have been in contact with the police department to file a report, and we have been in contact with the individual involved.”
The pumpkin patch began back in 2013 at the Ferry Morris Ranch, where it was located through 2018. It was rebranded as the Hope Harvest Festival and moved to the San Benito Historical Park in 2019. Since its inception, the pumpkin patch has sent proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
“We believe the disease is two-fold: you have the stress of trying to get well again, and you have the stress of the financial impact this has on the household,” Cook-Erickson said. She understands the effects of cancer and said she is involved with Hope Harvest because she has known several close friends with cancer and lost two aunts to the disease.
Founding member Mari Rossi said there is a need and she is involved because she “believes in helping the need.”
2019 also marked the start of the nonprofit’s Cancer Warrior Fund to help San Benito residents. The goal of the fund is to provide grants to patients in active treatment who have a financial need caused by their cancer, whether from high medical costs, loss of income or other circumstances. The fund is being built through the Community Foundation for San Benito County, and Hope Harvest plans to distribute monies as early as January.
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