13th Pumpkin Chuck takes flight to raise awareness

Watching pumpkins explode always pleases the crowd at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Pumpkin Chuck, held for the 13th time Oct. 27 near the flight line of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The event helped raise awareness for the Ohio Combined Federal Campaign, Miami Valley District, and was sponsored by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Engineering Directorate. Hundreds of people from the base community and the public enjoyed the event, which also included food trucks, a pumpkin pie eating content, a kids’ zone and music.

While supporting the OCFCMV, the event also emphasized STEM-based learning, or what can be gained from being engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said event chair Travis Flanagan. Teams from Troy Christian High School, Wright State University and the University of Dayton competed side-by-side with teams from the Engineering Directorate, he said.

“This is something that is a lot of fun and draws big crowds out,” Flanagan said. “At the same time, we can recognize the CFC.”

Susy Himelhoch, Miami Valley CFC volunteer executive director, said the campaign is grateful for the support.

“The Combined Federal Campaign is the annual charity giving campaign for the entire federal workforce,” she said, “including the Department of Defense as well as the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs. All federal employees can participate and it’s all voluntary. We have paper pledge forms this year, and people can donate through payroll deduction and also give through credit or debit card. There is also a website through which people can pledge. There are over 10,000 charities from which donors can choose.”

For some people, the event was all about chucking.

A team of 16 students from teacher Jared Mitchell’s Computer Assisted Design II classes at Troy Christian High School competed for the first time with their machines, Purple Rain and Tyreke.

“We want to have consistent throws and we wanted to build a machine that would work functionally,” said senior Matthew Riley Hall before competition began. “Our main goal is to get it out here and get it working. We’ll be happy with any distance.”

The teenagers did well, earning the Class B second-place award by hurling a 2-pound orange squash 400 feet downrange.

A break in the competition allowed the public to inspect the machines and talk with their operators.

Master Sgt. Katie Carter, aviation resource management, 88th Operations Support Squadron, brought her family husband Jeff and daughter Dera to take in the fun. She said she has watched TV shows featuring competitive chuckers and wanted to see it in person.

“This is so fun, to bring in the local community, learn about CFC and watch what these machines can do,” Carter said.

At the end of the day, bragging rights went to:

• Golden Gourd: Troy Christian High School

• Class A: Team Ethos/Phoenix

• Class B: Chunkworks

• Class C: Fighting Irish

To pledge to CFC

Donors will be able to pledge either electronically or by using paper pledge forms, both options will be available in several weeks. Pledges can be fulfilled by payroll deduction, as well as credit and debit card giving, which is a one-time gift. Electronic pledging, including those fulfilled by credit/debit, can be made through OPM’s new pledge site.

Use of the system, like participation in CFC, is strictly voluntary. Anyone who wants to make a one-time gift or use a paper CFC pledge form will still be able to do so.

Pledges made to this year’s campaign and fulfilled through payroll allotment will be deducted January through December 2018.

About the Author