A Silver Lining to Canceled Events: Flower Donations Spread Joy

Rather than letting floral arrangements go to waste, brides and other event planners are opting to send them to hospital patients and nursing home residents.

Everyone’s looking for a little good news and easy ways to help others while social distancing right now. The shutdowns across the country because of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) are especially difficult for those in hospitals and nursing homes since visitors have been highly regulated or restricted. But some organizations and individuals, florists in particular, are taking it upon themselves to boost spirits by donating bouquets of fresh flowers to the sick or elderly, who are more isolated than most. Many of the blooms intended for now canceled events like weddings and annual galas are getting a new purpose. Rather than letting the fresh flowers go to waste, the arrangements are bringing a smile to someone else's face.

peach colored peony flowers in vase
Peter Krumhardt

For many canceled or postponed events, it's been too late to cancel floral orders, but according to Samantha Bates, a certified floral designer at Especially For You Floral in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, people are choosing to donate these flowers instead. Bates said from just one couple's postponed wedding, about 40 small bouquets were dropped off to local senior center residents.

Bates has reached out to several local nursing homes to find out if they could deliver flowers from three postponed weddings, and to ask about any special precautions to take to keep the residents safe (the couples donating their flowers chose which nursing home to donate them to). “Every nursing home was very open to it, and they said that their residents were pretty down these days because they’re not able to get visitors,” Bates says. The shop made its first delivery to Camelot Nursing Home in Ponchatoula on March 18.

“When we dropped off the flowers, they met us outside to bring the flowers in from there, so we didn’t go inside at all,” Bates says, adding that they also washed everything (including vases) before dropping off the bouquets. She later posted about the delivery on the business’s Facebook page, and that’s when they saw what a difference the flowers had made. “One other person had posted pictures of her mom receiving one of the flower bunches we had brought, and she was smiling ear to ear,” Bates says.

Similar donations are happening all across the country. Couples donating flowers after postponing their weddings have been common, but others have found ways to spread joy, too. The Jupiter Police Foundation in Jupiter, Florida, recently donated over 20 boxes of flowers from its canceled policeman’s ball to local assisted living facilities. And after the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, which was scheduled for March 18 to March 22, was canceled, a pop-up shop sold the unused flowers and plants in order to support a local nonprofit.

Florists are also finding ways to brighten people’s days with their recent shipments of flowers. Rapoza’s Florist & Greenhouse in Westport, Massachusetts, has been offering the opportunity to sponsor vases and flowers for $15, then delivering the bouquets to a local nursing home for free. Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse in Putnam County, West Virginia, is doing something similar, offering tulips, hyacinths, and Easter lilies for the public to purchase and donate to local seniors.

Check with local florist shops near you to see if they are offering similar programs for bringing a smile to someone’s face. Bates mentioned that Especially For You Floral also offers curbside delivery to customers to help practice social distancing. Check with your own favorite florist shop to see if they have this service in place so you can enjoy some flowers yourself. Sending a colorful bouquet to others (or giving some to yourself) is an easy way to safely spread a little joy.

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