'Tis the season for goblins and ghouls, but the latest trick up Newland Communities' sleeve is truly a charitable treat.

PUTTING THE "FUN" IN FUNDRAISING: Newland Communities hosted its second annual Life is good Pumpkin Festivals on Oct. 20, benefiting HomeAid. Newland raised $400,000 for charities during the 2006 event. Photo: Courtesy Newland Communities Thousands of families enjoyed games, pumpkin carving, live music, and more at Newland Communities' second annual Life is good Pumpkin Festivals, held at 11 communities in seven states on Oct. 20.

HomeAid has been selected as the 2007 national beneficiary, while each participating community has selected a local charity to support as well.

"The Pumpkin Festivals have been a real-life example from day one of the reason Newland Communities exists: to build incredible communities where people can really live their lives," says LaDonna Monsees, Newland Communities president and CEO.

The alliance between Life is good, a Boston, Mass.-based clothing company, and Newland Communities provides both with an increased capacity to reach out and make contributions to communities across the country. While admission to the Pumpkin Festivals is complimentary, funds are raised through the sale of specially designed Life is good Pumpkin Festival t-shirts and merchandise; donations are accepted as well.

"Our relationship with Newland Communities and Life is good is such a natural fit, given our mutual desire to build stronger communities where we work and live," says HomeAid CEO Genette Eaton.

As part of the partnership, Life is good provided Newland's core team with a "festival boot camp" in Boston, helping to lay the logistical foundation of a successful event. Life is good worked with Newland teams nationwide for months in advance, planning everything from marketing and fundraising to management and merchandise sales.

Monsees points to the Pumpkin Festivals as a program that has received the entire company's full support. For the 2006 event, Newland's home office made scarecrows to adorn each participating community; this year, the corporate crew crafted special donation boxes that were distributed to its teams in the field. Each Pumpkin Festival enjoyed participation from many members of the Newland extended family, including its suppliers, home builders, business partners, and staff–not to mention musicians, food vendors, local media professionals, and benefactors, all of whom spent the day before the event setting up games, preparing pumpkins, and stuffing scarecrows.

"Hosting the festivals has been a very moving experience, when people attend the event that have family or friends who may face an unfair challenge and who will benefit from the funds raised," Monsees notes. "It was humbling and motivating during last year's festival to receive so many tearful thank yous for our efforts. For Newland, these festivals are really a powerful physical example of what we do every day."

Although times are bleak in the home building industry, Monsees believes that continuing the Pumpkin Festivals during the downturn sends a positive message to Newland's employees, partners, and homeowners. "It is an iconic event for us as a company, one that our teams devote months of time and energy to," she notes. "We truly believe building community is something that happens for the long term, and I personally believe that in tough times it is more important than ever."

"Good communities rally around great events and great causes," says Life is good co-founder Bert Jacobs. "Through our alliance with Newland Communities, both companies have an incredible opportunity to make a real difference."

Monsees urges fellow big builders who are faced with the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded companies and organizations that share your company values to take the plunge. "Don't be afraid of the huge amount of hard work it takes to make something like this successful," she advises. "The rewards for our team, for the Life is good team, for our charities, and ultimately for the children and families whose lives we hope to make better because of our commitment are so worth it."

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