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WEB EXCLUSIVE Many of us are feeling isolated and lonely right now but there’s one thing that always brings a smile: flowers. For The Flower Shuttle nonprofit’s volunteers, brightening someone’s day with a beautiful bouquet is a pleasure they get to enjoy each week, but their services have been so popular in recent months, they’re running out of vases.
Founded by former Raleigh resident Kathy Reece over a decade ago, The Flower Shuttle recycles flowers that would have been thrown away after weddings, funerals and other events, and delivers them to sick, poor or disabled residents all over the community.
“For some people, it’s the first bouquet that they’ve ever gotten in their life. That’s pretty touching,” says Katherine McVey, the nonprofit’s former president. “We kind of take it for granted, just because we’re affluent and we can afford them. But for these people, I think it makes them feel really special.”
Reece was inspired to start The Flower Shuttle after reading a story in Oprah Magazine in 2006 about a woman in New York who, after seeing just how many flowers were thrown away after events, started a foundation to recycle those flowers and give them to people who needed some cheer.
Realizing just how much of an impact a single bouquet can make, Reece started a similar program in Raleigh, out of her kitchen, until Raleigh Moravian Church agreed to support The Flower Shuttle as a community outreach project, donating $700 in seed money to start the nonprofit. The church continues to serve as headquarters where volunteers meet and create floral arrangements each week, every Tuesday at 10 a.m., to sort, prep and arrange blooms in bud vases and mugs (also donated) from the donations of flowers picked up the same morning or the day before. Volunteers then deliver colorful bouquets to 21 locations across Raleigh, including the Healing Place of Wake County, Sunnybrook, Triangle Family Services and WakeMed.
This month, The Flower Shuttle reached a spectacular milestone by delivering their 200,000th floral arrangement. During the coronavirus pandemic, shuttle volunteers have been gathering in teams in garages, porches and decks—while masked and staying socially distant—to continue their mission of caring and connecting with some of our area’s most vulnerable populations. They currently have ten teams that pick up from 11 donor organizations and deliver flowers to 25 recipient organizations.
“We have received many stories this summer of these flowers bringing joy to not only residents of these facilities, but also to staff members who continue to be such heroes during this pandemic,” says Rena Hatcher, who serves on The Flower Shuttle Administrative Team.
Because of the pandemic, however, The Flower Shuttle is not getting vases returned to them like they normally do, so the group is seeking donations of small, bud and medium vases without writing or logos. Vases can be delivered at any time to The Flower Shuttle’s shed located at the back of Raleigh Moravian Church at 1816 Ridge Road. They ask that vase donations be put in the bin to the left of the shed.
For more information on how you can help, visit theflowershuttle.com.
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