A River Heights resident is encouraging Winnipeggers to be more sustainable with their holiday decor.
Shortly after Halloween, Kaelah Marcoux began collecting pumpkins to donate to Kismet Creek Farm, an animal sanctuary located near Steinbach, Man., that rescues farm animals from neglect, abuse and potential slaughter.
"I love when younger people take initiative and do something that’s for the community," Marcoux told The Sou’wester. "It’s helping your neighbours, but also paying it forward in terms of the animals.
"It’s been a rough year because of COVID and the drought. Hay prices have also tripled, so it’s harder for farmers to afford to feed their animals."
Marcoux posted in a River Heights community Facebook group offering to pick up pumpkins.
Her phone blew up within 45 minutes with over 60 people reaching out. She ended up doing two rounds of pickups throughout River Heights and placed a sign in her front yard encouraging others to drop off their pumpkins.
"I didn’t expect it to go the way it did. It snowballed very quickly," Marcoux said. "I told the neighbouring houses I didn’t steal Halloween and there was a reason there were a pile of pumpkins in my yard."
In total, Marcoux hauled over 100 pumpkins to Kismet Creek Farm. She had to borrow her uncle’s truck, and even the cab was stuffed full.
Marcoux’s idea caught the attention of a local city councilor, who suggested she apply for a per capita grant to offset the costs of transportation.
"As a society, we’re starting to be more conscious of single-use and being more sustainable," Marcoux said. "Pumpkins are fun for the kids, but what can we do with them when the holiday is done and over?
"As people become more aware, they will decide this is what they want to do with them and can take their kids out to a farm. It would be an awesome experience for them while showing what they can do rather than just throwing things in the garbage."
After arriving at Kismet Creek Farm, Marcoux was directed to drive directly into the cow pen.
The group then tossed the pumpkins out of the truck while the animals swarmed in for their snack.
"I get excited from paying things forward," Marcoux said. "I love knowing I’m making a difference even if it’s a small thing like spending an afternoon driving pumpkins to Steinbach and knowing it’s helping lower their food costs."
Marcoux said she plans on collecting pumpkins again next year and anticipates the turnout will be larger.
She also hopes next year will be more organized and plans to put out the ask before Halloween rather than after.
With the end of the holiday season looming, Marcoux also encourages people to donate their Christmas trees to local animal sanctuaries.
For more information about Kismet Creek Farm, visit www.kismetcreekfarm.ca
Kelsey James is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from Red River College’s creative communications program in 2018 as a journalism major and holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to be covering the neighbourhoods she still calls “home.”