Pumpkin painting

Easton Waldeier and cousin Braxton Blackford focus on painting pumpkins during the Harvest Festival hosted by Up ’til Dawn Friday, Oct. 19 at Dot Family Farm. Up ’til Dawn raises money to benefit St. Jude’s to help children like Blackford’s little sister, Ava (not pictured), who lost her eyesight following treatment at St. Jude’s for a brain tumor.

There’s nothing like hayrides, caramel apples and pumpkin painting to bring in the fall season. Families, friends and students helped St. Jude’s Up ‘til Dawn organization bring in a new year of fall festivities and fundraising during the Harvest Festival Oct. 19.

The local Dot Family Farm swarmed with community families and Northwest students alike as the night carried on with fun games and activities for the children, dancing and karaoke for the vibrant at heart and much more.

The grassy hills were dotted with children at play, as parents watched, huddled by cozy fire pits. Caramel and candied apples sprang from every hand as more newcomers joined the festivities by the minute. Costumed children embraced their favorite characters, strutting in their getups to be the best in the barn.

While the night was one of good times, great music and wonderful memories, the Harvest Festival’s purpose was one to admire as Up ‘til Dawn was hard at work. With tickets priced at $10 for adults and $5 for children, the event was one of many events reaching toward the goal for the St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

President senior Carina Harding and Fundraising Director senior Micaela Schoening have been members of Up ‘til Dawn since their freshman year at Northwest.

“My family had always donated to St. Jude and I knew it was a great organization,” Schoening said. “It held a close place in my heart. I am also an elementary education major and love working with kids. It was a way for me to give back to things I care about.”

With the help of Schoening, Harding also became a member of Up ‘til Dawn soon after.

“When I came to college, I didn’t know much about St. Jude,” Harding said. “But then I saw her (Schoening) get involved through our sorority, so I learned the mission and values of St. Jude and fell in love with it.”

Up ‘til Dawn is a fundraising organization, hosting a variety of events, such as the Harvest Festival to raise money for the St. Jude Research Hospital.

“Teams of students get together, six people to a team and raise $600 together, and they get together that night to celebrate their fundraising and stay up with us until 6 a.m.,” Harding said. “It’s a competition between the teams and staying up for the kids. And all these events, like the Harvest Festival, are small things that lead up to the big event Up ‘til Dawn.”

With a goal of $40,000 fundraised for the school year, Up ‘til Dawn is nearly halfway to its goal with a little under $19,000. The organization has made strides through the semester.

The Harvest Festival took plenty of planning and motivation from Schoening, who was the mastermind behind the event. The event raised $780 towards its initial goal.

“This is the first year we’ve done this,” Schoening said. “I had the connections and it was something I really wanted to do, and I think it turned out well.”

While the event was the first of many, the turnout was something they had not anticipated.

“We weren’t able to advertise until a week and a half before the event, but there were a lot more families than I thought we would have,” Schoening said. “The dance and karaoke was a lot of fun, and the families enjoyed the hayrides.”

Though the biggest reward of the night was the St. Jude patient who was able to attend the event.

“It was really cool to see her there,” Schoening said. “And her mom came to thank us, and we also gave her a gift basket.”

If anybody wants to donate to the Up ‘til Dawn cause, visit http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/UTD/UTD?pg=entry&fr_id=92526.

Or contact Harding at s523470@nwmissouri.edu for information about upcoming fundraising events.

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