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Painted Pumpkins Bring Smiles

It started seven years ago with a suggestion from a friend at work – get customers to decorate pumpkins to be donated to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). The first year, Rachel Massengill, who was working at a local staffing company, delivered five pumpkins painted by five local companies to CHoR’s front desk, dental and therapy reception areas. This year, Rachel and her co-workers from Seneca Resources delivered 50 pumpkins to businesses around the Richmond area. On Oct. 20, representatives from those businesses delivered their decorated pumpkins to CHoR’s Brook Road Campus for a lunchtime celebration and pumpkin judging party.

“The Pumpkin Project has turned into such a fun thing,” said Rachel, whose teenage sons have helped deliver pumpkins since the project began. “The kids are so excited to see the pumpkins, and the decorating has gotten extremely competitive.”

Each participating company receives one pumpkin to decorate, and many companies purchase more to encourage internal competitions among employees. (Area companies provide gift certificates as prizes for the top pumpkin decorators.) Over the years, designs have included Olaf from the movie “Frozen;” BB8 from Star Wars; Cinderella complete with lighting, mice pulling the pumpkin carriage and a glass slipper; and a NBC12 News-sponsored pumpkin with the face of local weatherman Andrew Frieden. This year even saw the first high school entry from students in a local school’s art club.

Rachel said everyone has been supportive of her efforts, which this year included raising $800 for Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“Everybody has been on board and stayed with it,” Rachel said “It’s been fun to watch the project grow.”