‘We were spared to help others’: Pumpkin patch event raises $65k for Caldor victims

Miranda Jacobson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Christmas Valley Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser last weekend drew about 5,000 people and raised over $65,000 raised in support of the Community Disaster Resource Center in Lake Tahoe.

The entire event was sponsored by Liberty Utilities, who donated $10,000 to help make this event happen. All proceeds donated from the event will go to helping those who lost their homes in the Caldor Fire, sent through the CDRC Lake Tahoe.

The Christmas Valley Pumpkin Patch FUNdraiser was a massive success, raising over $65,000 for those affected by the Caldor Fire.
Provided/Alex Leumer

After returning home to see their ranch saved from the Caldor Fire, Tom and Chris Celio, along with two other cabin owners, came together to help those who were not as fortunate.

“We all said, ‘We need to do something,'” said Chris. “We need to have our community because Tahoe was spared, but we weren’t spared for life as usual. We were spared to help others.”

With help from the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Mayor Tamara Wallace, and many nonprofits and vendors from the area, the pumpkin patch was put together in just three weeks.

The Lake Valley Fire Protection District and their Academy were able to come out in the snow to set up the corn maze for the event.
Provided/Alex Leumer

Chris explained that within those three weeks, the amount of support from nearby establishments and agencies was beyond a blessing, with help coming from all over the Northern California and Nevada region.

One group that not only helped put the patch together, but came back to the ranch to help the Celio family clean up and prepare for the seemingly early winter, was the Lake Tahoe Lakers hockey team.

“They showed up on the Saturday before and asked what they could do to help,” said Chris. “They worked for a couple hours and it was amazing. Then, because we spent those three weeks getting ready for this, everything we had to do winterizing never got done, and snow came five hours after the event was over.”

The Lake Tahoe Lakers Hockey Team came before and after the event to help the Celios.
Provided/Chris Celio

The team was able to come back and help the Celio family prepare their ranch and restock their wood room, since wood is how they heat the entirety of their home.

“I can’t tell you how much they did for us and how much we absolutely needed them,” Chris said.

Chris also explained that organizations and vendors far and wide were willing to help make the event amazing, with Apple Hill providing apples, pies, wine and cider, along with gift cards and other goods. Lake Valley Fire provided a corn maze, and the McCallick family provided the petting zoo.

The event was packed with games, prizes, live music, tasty food, and local vendors with crafts and goods.

To top off the pumpkin patch, merchants from all over provided hundreds of pumpkins for the event. The acts of kindness in support of those who suffered through the Caldor Fire showed the Celio family how dedicated to the community the basin truly is.

“This was not a Celio Ranch thing,” said Chris. “These are the communities that were spared reaching the communities that were not, and they really came together.”

Along with putting together the fundraiser, the Celio family and others were able to find two, old growth Ponderosa Pines that had been cut down due to the fire. The slabs that were taken from the two pines were sold, raising several thousand dollars.
Provided/Chris Celio

The Celios are grateful that they were able to throw something together so quickly with their community to help those on the other side of the mountains.

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