Hard work during Pumpkin Festival pays in cash for KSC community service office
Karina Barriga Albring
Efforts put in Pumpkin Festival have paid off every year. The cheerful atmosphere of an entire community coming together seemed like a priceless reward for many Keene residents, including KSC students and faculty members.
However, the last Pumpkin Fest rewarded Keene State College with much more than warm gratitude.
Last Friday, Feb. 1, the college received a check for $5,000 for its contribution and involvement in the 2012 Pumpkin Festival, expressed Maryann Lindberg, vice president for Advancement at KSC.
The Equinox reported last semester, the organizers of Pumpkin Festival, Let it Shine Inc. received almost $30,000 from Discover Card after winning the challenge “Pumpkin Wars.” A dollar was awarded for each jack-o’-lantern Keene collected, making a total of $29,381.
The director of Let it Shine Inc. then decided to ask educational organizations that contributed to the success of the festival to submit an application to receive a grant.
Lindberg’s office was in charge of submitting the application for the college. “We were awarded one of the largest grants, [$5,000],” Lindberg said.
The college will use the awarded grant to fund community service initiatives among the student body.
Lindberg expressed the detailed budget is still been determined by the Community Service office and some other departments in Keene State College.
Kelly Welch, student body president and KSC sophomore, said she feels very proud of the college involvement in Pumpkin Fest. She said the entire community is excited for the event.
KSC freshman Siobhan Fuller said she thinks the college deserves the money.
“There is a lot of people involved and lot of effort behind events related to Pumpkin Festival,” Fuller expressed. She said she would like to see the college spend the money in initiatives that involve students. Fuller said, “Creating a scholarship or grant might be cool.”
Lindberg explained the community service office will, in fact, intend to enable students to “apply for funding for community outrage and service projects that they have interest in doing.”
Lindberg mentioned that KSC students regularly did around 75,000 hours of community service last year.
Jessica Gagne Cloutier, coordinator of community service, explained part of the plan her office has is to distribute the money in three main sections.
“We are hoping to offer some mini-grants that students with service initiatives can apply for this spring and also next fall,” Gagne Cloutier said.
Some funds will also be saved for the college’s involvement in the festival next year.
“We want to make sure that as a campus we are engaged enough in the festival, that we not only go as spectators but that we take part in making it a safe, clean, successful event,” Gange Cloutier expressed.
The community service office will also spend part of the $5,000 in funding Community Service Day. According to Gagne Cloutier, her office had the first Community Service Day last October.
“It was very successful. We had over 200 volunteers from the college, and we plan to do it again next fall so we want to keep some money for that,” she said.
Jessica Gagne Cloutier said she is excited to see that KSC’s involvement in the Pumpkin Festival is being recognized.
“We have so many students and faculty members who are engaged in the service and want to make sure that this keeps happening.”
Last year, when asked about KSC’s involvement in Pumpkin Fest, Ruth Sterling, from Let It Shine Inc., recognized the institution’s participation.
Sterling said, “The students and administration of the college did more to help Keene Pumpkin Festival that anyone I know.”
However, when it comes to what the college should do with the grant received, Sterling mentioned it would be appropriate to invest in alternative options for students to have fun after the festival is over.
“I wish it would be go to planning something from nine o’clock on, that engages the students, so that they have something to look forward to after the festival besides getting into trouble,” Sterling said.
Lindberg said on behalf of the college that student affairs put a lot of initiatives last year to give students alternatives to the partying downtown and drinking off campus.
She expressed she believes that incidents that occur on Pumpkin Festival weekend are not necessarily caused be KSC students.
She said that, “While certainly a lot of students are involved and some of them make poor decisions, if you look at the police statistics, by far the majority of incidents do not involve Keene State students, and not necessarily even guests of Keene State students.”
Lindberg said a lot of them are, in fact, volunteering to make the festival a good event.
“They have done a lot to say ‘we are not all getting into trouble here.’ I would hope that the community recognizes what are students have done both before and after the event,” she concluded.
Karina Barriga Albring can
be contacted at kbarriga@