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  • Jessica Carrillo

Teal Pumpkin Painting Party 2019

On October 27th, 2019, I held my first food allergy awareness event at my local Morgan Hill library. Leading up to this day, there was a lot going on. As a full-time college student, I worked to get everything planned out, between classes and constant homework. The day before the event, PG&E decided to shut off the power at my house, and much of the last-minute work was done by lantern that night!

And words can't fully express how completely thankful I am to my mom Jaclin, my dad John, my little brother Jonathan, my Aunt Jan, my friend Janelle, and my boyfriend Kyle for the time and effort they put in to help me bring this event together. My mom literally visited about three or four different Micheals Craft stores in the neighboring towns to make sure we had enough paint. And the entire staff of the Morgan Hill Library was amazing and so accommodating. A special shoutout to Tina and Heather, as this wouldn't have been possible without them! Roy from LJB farms was amazing by giving us a discount for the 150 little pumpkins we bought. I also want to thank the non-profit, Red Sneakers for Oakley for the lovely bracelets and informational cards they sent me, and Sweet Loren's, so the cookie vouchers for the event. And of course, to all the lovely people who came to my event, Thank you!

I was so worried things might not go smoothly, or that no one would show up. But we had 107 people come in and paint and I couldn't be happier. As someone trying to spread awareness for food allergies, it was so incredibly encouraging to have so much support. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a powerful symbol during Halloween for those of us with food allergies. Teal is the official color for food allergy awareness and a teal pumpkin on Halloween signals to trick-or-treaters that non-food treats are available for those with food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project is the genius work of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), the largest non-profit regarding any and all things food allergy. I am so thankful for non-profits like FARE who work to create a more inclusive world for all of us.

I decided that I wanted to have the pumpkin painting party early in September, but I had no idea how much of a success it would all be. I spent a lot of time creating the posters to send around town and brainstorming all the arts and crafts materials that might be fun to have in addition to the teal paint. The pipe cleaners ended up being SUCH a hit!! We also had glitter glue, foam stickers, and googly eyes. I still am absolutely amazed by the talent and creativity that I saw from my Morgan Hill community.

I set up posters in the library discussing food allergies and the importance of educating about them. During the event, I also spent lots of time talking to everyone who came in. Some people had not idea what the teal pumpkin project was about, so I got to explain that. Others were just so overjoyed that I had created an event surrounding food allergy awareness and asked that I continue to do so. For most of my life, I have felt like I was the only one in town that had food allergies. But during the event, I got to meet families that also had food allergies in them. Some newly diagnosed, and others who had had allergies for several years. It was really neat getting to talk to them and realize how much we had in common. And I am happy to announce that my Teal Pumpkin Painting Party will be returning October 2020!

My hope for next year is that we can get an even bigger turnout, and hopefully educate even more people about food allergies. I can't wait to see how things go next year.

Scroll down for all the pictures from my Teal Pumpkin Painting Party!

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you next year!


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