Dental hygiene pumpkin wins charity fundraiser

Photo by Tom Warner |  The winning pumpkins carved by the Parkland Dental Hygiene Club sit on display during the 2017 Pennies for Pumpkins Competition in the U-wing on Oct. 31.

Photo by Tom Warner |The winning pumpkins carved by the Parkland Dental Hygiene Club sit on display during the 2017 Pennies for Pumpkins Competition in the U-wing on Oct. 31.

Greg Gancarz


Handing out free candy is not the only form of charity prevalent on Halloween; on Tuesday, Oct. 31, Parkland’s Pennies for Pumpkins charity event was held for the fifth consecutive year.

The event revolved around Parkland’s clubs and student organizations. Each club involved created their own pumpkin carving to encourage those passing by to donate money, spare change being the expected form of currency.

A long row of tables was set up on the ground floor of the U-wing along the Parkland Bookstore’s wall. Each club was allotted half a table to set up their pumpkin and any other decorations.

The Dental Hygiene Club, which garnered the most money in donations, won the event and got to choose which charity all the donations collected from every club went to. They had two pumpkins carved with the images of the classic human molar.

This year’s charity event saw over a dozen different clubs participate. Most pumpkins were decorated with a theme that was consistent with the club’s unique purpose, like the Nursing Club’s, which featured the iconic six-point nursing star and had multiple syringes stuck into the pumpkin for added effect.

“My cat has diabetes so I have a lot of syringes laying around so I figured ‘whatever, I’ll add them,’” said Bieke O., a student of the nursing program.

Some onlookers noted that the syringes did add a creepy effect to the club’s pumpkin, but also said that it was a good thing because “it’s Halloween. It’s supposed to be creepy.”

Bieke said that she woke up early to carve the pumpkin that very morning. Alec G., another member of the nursing program, said that he was “very proud of the pumpkin,” and that he “couldn’t be happier with it.”

Other clubs took it a step further and brought even more decorations for their booths. The German Club brought a festive fall table cloth and decorated their pumpkin with an authentic Bavarian hat, in addition to the image of a pretzel carved on the pumpkin itself.

“We were thinking of what to do and pretzels are a very German snack so we figured why not make a German pretzel pumpkin,” said Mary Jo Licht, a coordinator of the German Club. “We have an artist in the club so it really turned out nice.”

In addition to the artistic renderings of pretzels on display at their booth, the German Club also offered salted pretzel snacks as an alternative to standard Halloween candy.

Club Latino was another club which utilized expansive booth décor, including floral arrangements, Mexican sugar skulls, and a sombrero on one of their carved pumpkins.

Mexico in particular does not celebrate Halloween. Its citizens instead take part in Day of the Dead celebrations. Because pumpkin carving is typically not something done in Latin American countries, club member Michelle Salas Lazo said that members had to “think on their feet” when creating pumpkins and decorating the booth.

Clubs were not limited to one pumpkin. The veterinary technician organization had two present, and would have had a third if it weren’t for a pumpkin’s fatal accident en route to the event that morning.

“[She] had it on her cart and hit a bump and the pumpkin tipped over and smashed,” said Morgan C., a student in the veterinary technician program. “It was the one we had spent the most time on too.”

One of the two surviving pumpkins featured several miniature pumpkins decorated as kittens popping out of the lid of a larger pumpkin, an idea club member Mack C. says they got from Pinterest. Their motivation was the opinion “kittens are cute.”

The Astronomy Club also utilized numerous pumpkins. The carver, Sage Russel said she got the idea for two of the designs from the pumpkins themselves.

“I saw I had this big pumpkin and this little bitty pumpkin and I thought, ‘Why not make the big dipper and the little dipper constellations,’” Russell said.

In addition to the depictions of the constellations, Russell also created the sun, moon, and Earth on three additional pumpkins by painting them. All in all, she said it took her about two to three hours to complete everything.

The event was hosted by Alpha Phi Omega and Student Life. Next year’s event will—as the previous Pennies for Pumpkins”—be held during Halloween-time.