South Hill couple Leonard and Bernadette Mintenko are at it again this year, planting, growing, and selling about 1,300 sunflowers this summer to raise money for a charitable cause. 

For the past two years, the Mintenkos have added their sunflower fund to the efforts of Moose Jaw’s Rotary Clubs to help feed Ukrainian refugees. 

“This year, we thought we’d change it up and we thought the Humane Society was a group we’d like to partner with,” explained Len Mintenko. “The need is great everywhere, so we thought we’d partner and help the animals.” 

“All the money that we receive, any donations, it’s incredible because it helps all the pets that are in our community,” said Donna Fritzke, fundraising co-ordinator at the Moose Jaw Humane Society (MJHS). 

“We’re so thankful to Len and Bernie for all the work, it’s been so much work doing all these sunflowers and it’s been a lot of fun. People love buying them and the money goes toward our lifesaving vaccines, every pet that comes here is spayed or neutered, they’re vaccinated. It’s just been amazing.” 

The Mintenkos started out with a package of Honey Nut Cheerios from Costco, Len noted. 

“It had a package of seeds that said, ‘Save the Bees’, so we planted them in our yard that year. The next year, we harvested some seeds, planted them again. We had a small planter and I took a handful of seeds and just threw them in there and covered them with dirt. 

“About 100 plants came up, all in this little planter, so I separated them, then we put them online and they were gone in half an hour. So, a light bulb went off.” 

They sell the plants at Moose Jaw’s farmers markets, online, and to sponsors like Mosaic, which bought 100 plants this year for the Mosaic Community Garden.  

“It all came to $655, and we just rounded it off to $700 for our donation,” Mintenko added. 

“It takes a month or so of our lives, but we enjoy doing it and the Humane Society and Donna and the team here have been fun to work with. We’ll go with them again next year if they want to.”