A group of associated flower shops in Pennsylvania and Ohio came together for the tenth time earlier this month to collect hundreds of pounds of non-perishable items for area food banks. The pandemic made the effort especially meaningful this year.
The “Stems Hunger” food drive, held June 27 to July 4, generated nearly 1,300 pounds of non-perishable items for 12 food banks in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Donors received a free carnation for each item they contributed, up to six per visit.
The annual event is organized by sister companies Royer’s Flowers & Gifts and Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts in central and eastern Pennsylvania and Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts in the Columbus, Ohio, area. In its 10-year history, the drive has collected nearly 10 tons of non-perishable food.
“Stems Hunger grew out of the company’s desire to give back to its communities,” said Tom Royer, the company’s CEO. “For a couple reasons, summer was an ideal time to hold a food drive: it is a relatively quieter time in our stores, giving us the time and space to devote to a charitable event, but also a time of food shortages, especially for children who lose access to meals through school.”
This year, he added, “the pandemic compounded food shortages… with millions of Americans seeking help from food banks for the first time.”
Unfortunately, the regional food bank the floral team had long collaborated with for its outreach was closed during the pandemic, forcing the team to reach out to other groups for new partnerships.
“Instead of this being an obstacle to a successful event,” Royer said. “It was an opportunity to work with a dozen local food banks. We’re proud of our customers and staff for rising to the occasion once again, despite these challenging times, to help fill a great need in our communities.”
Lebanon-based Royer’s operates 15 Royer’s stores in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts has one Harrisburg store. Connells Maple Lee operates stores in Bexley, Grove City and Powell, Ohio.
Read more about the food drive, along with other community outreach efforts by the floral businesses.