With one week to go, more than 485 floral industry businesses from 42 states and two countries have signed on to Petal It Forward in their communities on Oct. 21. The feel-good initiative, spearheaded by the Society of American Florists, has taken on new urgency this year at a time when many people are feeling the mental toll of the ongoing pandemic.
This year’s event has generated interest from industry companies that have long participated —and organizations and businesses that are new to the effort.
When Kelly Krenzel, founder of Hope Blooms, learned about Petal It Forward earlier this year, she immediately wanted to be a part of the movement. The goodwill initiative aligned perfectly with her nonprofit’s year-round mission: to change people’s lives with small acts of kindness. “We use flowers as the mechanics to let people know they matter and they are not alone,” she said.
Additionally, Krenzel knows wholeheartedly that flowers bring joy to both the recipient and the giver, and she wants more people to experience how good it feels to brighten someone else’s day. “Petal It Forward is the perfect way for us to really plug in and elevate our everyday mission by working through the larger platform that the Society of American Florists provides,” she said.
The four-year-old organization, based in West Fargo, North Dakota, repurposes flowers donated from weddings, funerals, large events, two floral wholesalers and two grocery chains (Hornbacher’s and Cash Wise). Volunteers repackage donations into bouquets or mason jar arrangements, which they deliver to people especially in need of a smile, including those in hospitals, long- and short-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, crisis centers and more. In response to the pandemic, Hope Blooms has also made random doorstep deliveries around town — nearly 1,300 since June — which it will do in earnest next week for Petal It Forward.
“It’s been a tough time for everyone in the community,” said Mary Noah, Hope Blooms’ intern. “We thought it would be a fun way to safely bring little moments of hope and joy to people.”
On Oct. 21, the organization aims to deliver 500 bouquets. “We’ll deliver as much floral as we can get our hands on,” Noah said, adding that generosity abounds in the community, from donors and volunteers alike.
“We’re stereotypically Midwestern,” she said. “There’s a ridiculous amount of support. Anytime we ask for help, the response seems to be, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that!’ Local corporations, college students, retirees, families — a lot of different people come together for this.” Parents, in particular, have been particularly gung-ho to load their kids and flowers in wagons to deliver some unexpected cheer during neighborhood walks.
For Petal It Forward, Hope Blooms will host several design sessions for groups of volunteers to arrange bouquets, with sanitizing breaks after each one. Volunteers must wear masks and gloves and practice social distancing while in the Hope Blooms shop. The organization has already secured media coverage for the day and plans to use SAF’s social media graphics and posts to advertise the event online.
While Oct. 21 will be essentially be “business as usual” for the Hope Blooms team, “we couldn’t be more excited to officially be a part of Petal It Forward,” Noah said.
It’s not too late to join in on the action next week. Click here to register your business for this year’s event and find out more about SAF’s 2020 Petal It Forward initiative, including how to access updated tools and information that you can use to create and customize your own event. https://safnow.org/petalitforward/
Katie Vincent is the senior contributing writer and editor for the Society of American Florists.