After tragedy struck in one Indiana city, a local florist took action.
On March 20, Carl Koontz, a 26-year-old Howard County Sheriff Deputy was killed while serving arrest and search warrants. He left behind a wife, Kassandra, and baby son, Noah.
The senseless loss left many in the community feeling adrift, including Michelle Herr of Banner Flower House in Kokomo, who felt a particular connection to the young family. Three years ago, Banner Flower House created the floral designs for the Koontzes’ wedding — and when they heard about the deputy’s death, they knew they had to do something.
“We happened to have about 25 bolts of weather proof blue ribbon in house and decided we should offer free bows for people to show their support,” Herr explained. She thought a few people might stop by. Instead, “we were running out of ribbon on Day 1.”
The shop shared its outreach efforts on Facebook and word spread quickly. “Each day, my mother Janice Lagzdins, the owner, and I would discuss, ‘How many more [bows] should we commit to?’” Herr said. “[Mom] just said we will do them until people stop asking for them.”
Over the next few days, the Banner team made more than 6,000 free bows and larger bows sold for $10. They cleared out their wholesaler in the process and had to source additional ribbon from other cities. They also collected more than $1,000 in donations for the families of Koontz and Sgt. Jordan Buckley, who was wounded at the same time.
“Some people ordered 50 or 100 at a time,” Herr said. “We gave free large bows to Northwestern High School, where [Koontz] was a resource officer. We gave them to the police, sheriff’s office, city government. We literally had thousands of people in our shop…waiting in line, sharing stories, donating money, thanking us for our support.”
Banner also donated flowers to the family for the funeral — a practice they’ve adopted, without publicity, for years for fallen soldiers and officers.
“Since he had a flag draped on the casket, his widow requested that we do the family pieces in their wedding flowers and colors,” Herr said.
orcement community has been especially appreciative” of the gesture, Herr said. “I was afraid our staff might run screaming from the building. We were so overwhelmed — busier than Valentine’s Day, but totally flying by the seat of our pants — but they were real troopers. This seemingly insignificant offer of free small bows was cathartic for us and for our community.”
The shop is still getting “calls and messages every day thanking us and just sharing how appreciative the community is,” Herr added. “Florists are in the business of expressing sentiments — not just with flowers, but maybe even by just providing a place for people to gather and express their feelings.”