REPUBLIC, Mo. — Missouri Berries held Pumpkins for Patriots this weekend, a fundraiser for Honor Flight of the Ozarks.
Veterans and their chaperons visited war memorials in Washington D.C. in August — and now the organization is gearing up for another trip later this month.
“100% of it went to the honor flight to the Ozarks, 100% of the funds,” Randy Little owner of Missouri Berries said. “And they had people lined up all day. Last three days. It’s tremendous.”
Little said Pumpkins for Patriots was a happy accident. The pumpkins he planted as part of his strawberry field rotation grew better than expected and it became an opportunity to give back.
“As a veteran, I’ve been on a trip,” Little said. “And it just, it’s one of those memories that you will never forget.”
“We have grandparents that were veterans,” said Amy McCroskey who was at Pumpkins for Patriots with her family. “And so the idea that we could contribute to that and help sponsor a flight was important to us.”
Honor Flight of the Ozarks is one of many hubs across the nation that flies veterans to Washington D.C. to see war memorials free of charge. Advisory Director Hayden Harrison tells OzarksFirst the flights wouldn’t be possible without the fundraisers.
“It’s right now at a rate of about $170,000 per flight,” Harrison said. “So we have an operating budget, just over $550,000 in 2023. That expense is likely to go up. So we rely heavily on fundraisers.”
The weekend was an opportunity to celebrate fall by picking pumpkins and supporting those who have served.
“I’m a very lucky one. But there are some veterans who are less lucky than me with the situations they’ve seen,” said Patt McCroskey who donated to Honor Flight of the Ozarks at Pumpkins for Patriots. “So I’m all for supporting veterans.”
The next Honor Flight of the Ozarks is scheduled to take off bright and early October 25th from the Springfield-Branson National Airport.