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The grounds of La Plata United Methodist Church are awash with gourds as the church launches its month long Great Pumpkin Festival.

The church will be selling pumpkins from noon to 6 p.m. every day and the orange fall staple that are tumbled on the church’s front lawn started attracting attention right away.

“No sooner had they been delivered, cars started to stop and people started to come in,” said Dan Brennan, a member of the church’s marketing and advertising committee which is organizing the festival.

Proceeds from the pumpkin sales will benefit the Children’s Aid Society of Charles County, which helps low-income families with children with basic needs. Children who benefit from the organization will be invited to the patch to select pumpkins, Brennan said.

This is the first year the church is putting on the autumn event, which includes an daylong festival noon Oct. 13 featuring the Chin Hamaya Dancers, bluegrass group Port Tobacco Pickers, gospel group Joyful Noise, ventriloquist Al Turner, La Plata Bell Choir and barbecue chicken dinners.

On Oct. 14, the church will hold a picnic open to the community, said the Rev. Bruce Jones, pastor at La Plata United Methodist.

“We’re really excited to give all the money we make [through sales] to Children’s Aid,” he said. “But it’s not about money, it’s about trying to serve the community and kids.”

The events will hopefully draw people who are looking for a church, too, organizers hope.

“We want to help the local community and also bring people onto the church grounds so they can see what we are about,” Brennan said.

The celebrations don’t stop with the festival. On Oct. 21, Blessing of the Pets will be held at 3 p.m. Donations of pet food can be dropped off for the church’s food pantry during the event.

And on Halloween evening, the churches parking lot will be packed with decorated cars and trucks, owners handing out candy to kids in and out of costume.

“This church is doing some fun stuff,” Jones said. “We don’t want to look like one of those stuffy churches. We’re very happy to share.”

staylor@somdnews.com