How One Family’s Spooky Decorations Raise Funds for St. Jude
Photos by Jamie Plain
Paul and Lauren Westerfield have always enjoyed the fall season. Eleven years ago, Paul proposed to Lauren using pumpkins, so it’s no surprise that they enjoy growing a pumpkin patch every year. The couple now involves their two boys, Cooper (7), and Eli (3) and have taken their love of fall a step further into an elaborate Halloween display at their home.
“We have our pumpkin patch at my parent’s house every year,” Lauren said. “We also try to do a Halloween party each year—my mom thinks we are a little crazy.”
But this family of four has found a way for their passion for the season to help others.
Paul, who follows a Home Depot social media page to discover the launch of new products, came across information for Skeletons for St. Jude, a Halloween themed fundraiser that seemed too simple to pass up. At the time, Home Depot was selling these larger than life skeletons as a product on their website.
Skeletons for St. Jude originated in 2020, when a man from North Carolina placed a St. Jude’s fundraising sign in his yard after a local news station aired his elaborate Halloween display.
According to their website, the efforts of one man evolved into a “nationwide effort of haunters to raise $100,000 dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during the 2023 Halloween and Holiday seasons, thus bringing the total raised to over a half a million dollars.”
It did not take Paul long to realize he wanted to use the props they had as a fundraiser to raise money, too.
“Last year, we had a lot of people drive by but we didn’t raise as much money as we hoped,” Paul said. “We had a steady flow of traffic, but we only raised about $300.”
Although many came to look at their impressive Halloween display, not many donated, which is something their family is working to change this year.
“We’d love to make a weekend of it like Stonegate does at Christmastime,” Paul said. “If we offer it multiple weekends, we could raise money for them and other nonprofits.”
Ultimately, the Westerfield family wants to use their tradition of decorating their yard with a giant skeleton, lights and displays into a tool for helping the community.
“I like to see the joy on the kids’ faces when I do it,” Paul said. “Our Christmas display is not as big yet, but we have enjoyed working on the Skeletons for St. Jude display. One little girl drives by with her grandma everyday.”
The display began to take shape starting August 1 with lots of new additions this year. There is a fubble machine, which is a combination of bubbles with fog, along with a Hocus Pocus movie playing outside and a 12-foot skeleton to grab the attention of those who pass.
The family also created homemade tombstones, pumpkin arches, graveyard columns, the front of a haunted house, and places for photo opportunities.
Turning this into a full family event, the Westerfields said their children are very involved and helped to make some of the decorations for this year’s display. This mom and dad said it is important for their family to support a good cause, but it is equally as important to instill the power of hardwork and community into their children.
“I was taught at a young age to be a hard worker. They are learning to be hands on and they want to build stuff, learn and do things,” Paul said. “But we are also teaching them there are kids out there that do not have what they have. We want to teach them about charity because there are people out there that are less fortunate than them. Our goal is to be good parents and give them life lessons through everything we do.”
As far as future plans, the Westerfields have brainstormed having connections to local Halloween businesses such as Ghostly Productions and asking food trucks to get involved.
If you would like to visit the Westerfield’s Halloween display, their home is located off Reid Road on Carlsbad Lane near the Thruston Philpot Fire Station. Signs will be displayed on how you can donate to St. Jude.