From Pumpkins to Packets

Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it is comfortable.  Our daily routines have seen more change since March than possibly any other time in our lives.  Many special events and holidays have looked different, and even the weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms we fall into have been disrupted.  But Kellie Eaton, a Secretary and Registrar at Samantha Smith Elementary School, didn’t let that stop her from hosting her schools’ Annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest.

Samantha Smith joined the Sister Schools community when they did their first supply drive in 2015.  Kellie’s husband is the principal at another school in the district and helped spread Sister School’s message all around!  Kellie says that “the first time that Sister Schools came to Samantha Smith I was completely overcome with emotions and the huge impact of how this organization reaches out and makes daily impacts to families a world away.”  She even even traveled to Uganda with us during our Spring Distribution Trip in 2018, an experience she has thought about every day since.  Kellie knew that despite the difficulties her own community is facing with the coronavirus, Samantha Smith could still make a difference in Uganda.

Normally, Kellie would begin recruiting entries from staff members at the beginning of October so students could vote the week of Halloween.  She would display the pumpkins outside the main office and students could vote for their favorite with loose change or paper money.  At the end of the week, the pumpkin that received the most money was declared the winner and the funds were donated to

Sister Schools!

This year, Kellie ran the event entirely virtual.  Staff members submitted pictures of their pumpkins to Kellie, who then numbered and shared them with parents.  Each student had the opportunity to participate this year, regardless of whether they could make a donation.  Parents were encouraged to make a gift directly to Sister Schools if they were able.

And the Winner Is . . .

Samantha Smith raised over $200 this year to support Sister Schools’ COVID-19 programming, turning their pumpkins into educational packets, food support, and sanitation equipment so that when Ugandan schools reopen, students will be healthy, prepared, and safe.

“From the first moment we started the supply drives more than 5 years ago, the students ask me every year if we are going to do donations this year.  I believe the impact is very significant to other students that are not aware of other differences in the world and they don’t necessarily think about how fortunate they really are.  Sister Schools has brought that awareness to our society.”

-Kellie Eaton

This style of fundraiser can be run in so many ways throughout the year –
for Valentine’s Day, using Gingerbread Houses, or as part of a Spring Extravaganza!

If your school is interested in hosting a fundraiser like Samantha Smith’s,
please contact Program Director Terry McGill at

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