SEBRING — Earlier this year, members of Highlands County Government wanted to see if they could get more involved with the United Way.

County Administrator Randy Vosburg said he and his department heads wanted to look at ways to put in more volunteer hours, and maybe do some fundraising.

They’ve raised up to $2,014 already, and that’s just from sandwiches and pumpkins, said Public Information Officer Gloria Rybinski.

Throughout October, county staff took orders for meatball subs at $5 each, she said.

They sold 200 of them, Rybinski said. On Halloween, county staff fixed the homemade sandwiches, packaged them and distributed them to their customers.

That raised the first $1,000, Rybinski said.

Next, they sold tickets for their annual pumpkin carving contest. For 50 cents per vote, visitors could cast votes on which pumpkin carvings they liked the best.

They could throw all their tickets in one bucket or spread them out, but they still had to buy them.

That raised the rest of the money, and selected a clear winner for the carving contest this year: the Road & Bridge Department with 508 tickets.

Road crews constructed a Weber grill fashioned from a medium-size pumpkin, complete with grill utensils, toy steaks and meats on the “grill,” and big and small spiders all over it.

Road & Bridge Director Kyle Green accepted the trophy from last year’s winner, Building & Grounds Superintendent Richard Fleeger.

Fleeger’s staff this year went for classic horror with a pumpkin that had obviously taken issue with being carved, had eaten the carver and still had the victim’s leg sticking out of its mouth.

Second place this year went to County Administration with 245 tickets. They presented a pumpkin with an old photo of Green pasted to it, and a mullet wig attached at the top of the photo, to make it look like a high school yearbook picture.

Third went to the Highlands County Extension Service with 233 tickets.

Their pumpkin had both an outside and inside design. The staff put a blackbird on the roof of the pumpkin and constructed a miniature diorama on the inside, showing their view of what the extension office exterior would look like, if it were a tiny pumpkin.

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