Family’s pumpkin sales are for a good cause

Payton Ens, centre, with her cousins Grace (left) and Hazel Kamenar and family were selling pumpkins at Canadian Tire in Tillsonburg on the weekend, raising funds for Childcan. (Chris Abbott/Norfolk Tillsonburg News)

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The Ens family has found a way to give back to Childcan, a community-based charity that helps children diagnosed with cancer at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

They are selling pumpkins – small, medium and super large – in a variety of colours.

Payton Ens, who recently celebrated her eighth birthday, had been diagnosed with leukemia in the spring of 2017 and was in the London hospital for the first 30 days.

“Childcan came forward and gave us a bunch of food vouchers and a parking pass for two years at the hospital,” said Payton’s father, Dave Ens. “They also help other people with bills if they have to stay longer, or accommodations. It’s just a really good charity and I’ve seen it help a lot of people first hand. So I thought we should help them out.”

Payton completed her treatments in August 2019.

“She’s stronger and healthier now than she’s ever been,” said Dave.

Dave’s father, Ed, who lives near Straffordville, came up with the idea to grow pumpkins with help from Payton, who lives in Ingersoll, and her two cousins, Grace and Hazel Kamenar, from Straffordville.

“The girls and I planted them ourselves,” said Ed. “The plan was to sell them for Childcan right from the start. The girls helped cultivate them, pick them and now they’re going to sell them, and 100 per cent of the proceeds are going to Childcan (”

“We picked them yesterday and the day before and a couple today,” said Grace on Friday afternoon.

“I did pay them to pick the pumpkins, but they donated it back to Childcan,” said Ed, noting it is early for pumpkins, but because “every store’s got them now,” they didn’t want to miss the boat.

According to Foodland Ontario, you can keep an unblemished whole pumpkin in a cool, dry place for several months – if you haven’t cut into it.

But even if you’re not saving it for Halloween, the girls said they make great fall decorations.

“Put it on your porch for fall,” Payton suggested.

“So you could use it for a sign of fall, or you could just paint it,” said Grace. “Say you had a yellow one, you could paint an emoji on it.”

“Or you can melt crayons, put glue on your pumpkin and grab a hair dryer and melt crayons on it,” said Payton. “I’ve done that before.”

Ed received permission from the Canadian Tire Tillsonburg manager to sell them from the sidewalk of their store at 248 Broadway.

They had 120 pumpkins on the trailer on Friday ($2/$5/$10 or donation), including 22 ‘giant’ pumpkins – some nearly 100 pounds – and sold a lot of them on Saturday.

They plan to be back again next Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Canadian Tire in Tillsonburg.

“We’ve got a lot more,” Ed smiled.