Sandown Man Creates His Own Halloween Treat

SANDOWN – For the past few autumns, a Sandown man has taken it upon himself to bring a smile to the faces of elementary level special education students in the Timberlane Regional School District. Joseph McKinnon was busy this month getting a tally of all of the children on the autistic spectrum or who are learning disabled, picking up pumpkins for each, and delivering those pumpkins to the schools.

McKinnon often works to raise awareness and make life better or easier for those with autism. As an adult he was diagnosed with a form of autism, and three of his children are on the autism spectrum so the struggles that come with the disability are personal. And the pumpkins, he said, are his way of giving back and making life a little better for the young ones. It can be difficult growing up with autism, McKinnon said, citing the many ups and downs.
Beth Rincon, director of special education in the Timberlane District, said McKinnon’s gesture was appreciated by the district. Rincon said the district always appreciates parents willing to help out, and McKinnon was a generous one.
The Timberlane District includes Sandown, Atkinson, Danville and Plaistow.
On his way to drop off another load of pumpkins last week – he delivered almost 200 in all – McKinnon said that while it’s a lot of work, the deliveries are worth it. This year he purchased the pumpkins from Mack’s Apples in Londonderry.
McKinnon said the benefits to the pumpkins were many. At the most basic level there is the tactile feel of the pumpkins, and the simple joy of touching and holding the gourd. Then there’s the family side of things, where the kids can take the pumpkin home and work on it with their family. And of course there’s the creative side of things, where the kids decorate or carve the pumpkins, see the results and feel good about a job well done.
McKinnon said his own kids like the craftiness of decorating pumpkins this time of year, and it was their reactions to the fall staple that gave him the idea to reach out to the schools.
“They get a joy out of it. To see the kids smile makes my day,” said McKinnon.

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