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Carved pumpkins of all styles lined the east side of PNC parking lot Saturday.
A large, green-painted jack-o’-lantern resembled Frankenstein. Nearby, a small, round, blue-painted pumpkin with cookies underneath its mouth was clearly intended to be “Sesame Street’s” Cookie Monster. There were dozens more.
For the fourth year, Advocates for Children, an organization that trains volunteers to represent abused and neglected children in the court system, held Night of a Thousand Jacks, its biggest fundraiser.
“Last year, we raised a little over $6,000,” said Therese Miller, executive director of Advocates for Children. “We’d like to double that, if possible.”
Advocates for children got a good head start when its presenting sponsor, Central Sheet Metal, donated $5,000. Employees of the company and volunteers manned the concession booth.
Columbus North and Columbus East cheerleaders set up tables for face-painting and children’s games. They also made jack-o’-lanterns and raised funds for the organizations.
“We initially approached (the local cheerleaders) about sponsorship,” said Rick Scalf, outreach coordinator for Advocates for Children. “And they kind of jumped in and took it to the next level. They’ve really kind of made this their event, which is awesome.”
Individuals and groups entered the jack-o’-lanterns competition, raising $1 for Advocates for Children per vote for their pumpkins.
The Patriot Academy, a soon-to-be extinct program at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center that gave high school dropouts the opportunity to join the National Guard, raised $800 before Saturday’s competition began.
“We’re getting ready to shut down,” said Jesse Bradbury, a non-commissioned officer at the academy. “This was our opportunity to do one more thing for the community.”
Bradbury got his son, Jordan, 18, and daughter, Allison, 19, involved in the effort.
Nashville resident Connie Clouse brought her 5-year-old female Yorkshire terrier, Dumplin, to Columbus to participate in the Monster Masquerade, a parade of pets dressed in Halloween garb. Dumplin wore a witch’s hat and cape.
“She’s not very wicked, but she’s a witch,” Clouse said. “This is the third year in a row that she’s entered. We like the cause, and she likes to strut her stuff.”
Advocates for Children hoped to raise enough money to train 60 Court Appointed Special Advocates.
“Every dollar raised, every vote contributed is a dollar donation to Advocates for Children to help train CASA volunteers to serve youth who have been removed from their home through abuse or neglect,” said Sukie Decker, event chairwoman for Night of a Thousand Jacks.
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