When life gives you pumpkins — lots and lots of pumpkins — use them to help kids.

What started out as a college prank turned into a cancer fundraiser.   The Howat family in Southport found dozens of pumpkins of all different sizes in their backyard last week.  The identity of the pranksters behind the mysterious popup pumpkin patch was a mystery for a few days, until the source was identified as a University of New Haven fraternity.  The idea of using the pumpkins for charity came from Howat's sons, Max and Fin. Max is a third-grade student with Brent McCreesh, the 9-year-old whose own battle with stage-four neuroblastoma cancer was the genesis for TeamBrent in 2005. Max and Fin wanted to sell the pumpkins for TeamBrent so they could help other kids have a successful outcome like their friend Brent.  All kids should get that chance.

Brooke Howat said the first sign that things were out of sorts took place about 2 a.m. that morning when she heard one of the family's dogs barking. "I figured it was a skunk" that had caught the dog's attention, she said. The next morning she looked out the window, and since she was not wearing her glasses or contacts, saw only a large blur of orange.

Perhaps, Howat thought, it was a tarp. She went outside to investigate, and found the glowing pile was no tarp, but dozens and dozens and dozens of pumpkins.  They resolved that the jumbo supply of jack o'lanterns in waiting would not go to waste. 

Max said his first thought when he saw all the pumpkins "was some robber had left them as a prank. I didn't know what was going on. It was really weird and mysterious."

Fin has his own theory: "High school kids."

There was no set price for the pumpkins.  People were asked to give a donation to TeamBrent in exchange for a gourd.  Thanks to the astonishing generosity of the community, the Howats raised $2,861.  When an idea like this comes from children, we can't help but be warmed by the thought.  What an incredible world we live in, where kids are being raised to take a bounty and use it to help others.   And then to have a community that is so supportive that dozens of pumpkins can turn into thousands of dollars....well, we are grateful and inspired. 

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