Random Acts of Flowers is Recycling Flowers & Delivering Smiles!
Dawn LaCross has dedicated much of her time to helping others and after serving at more than 40 local charity organizations over the past 16 years, she had a desire to bring to the community a non-profit organization that would create a positive impact for people, while also promoting recycling. After seeing a video featuring Random Acts of Flowers (RAF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that began in Knoxville, TN with the mission to improve mental health through the power of giving flowers, Dawn knew she was on to something good. Dawn says, “Once I saw the video, I tracked down the founder. We have the largest hospice in the entire world right here and more ALFs (assisted living facilities) and nursing homes per capita than anywhere in the nation – we need this!”
Even though Random Acts of Flowers Pinellas is new to our area, their dynamic team of volunteers, are already making a difference!
“Our mission is fulfilled over and over again within a 24-48 hour period after we receive flowers,” explains Dawn. “We never take in anything and send it out the same way. We take in the flower donations and set up a triage area, where the dead and dying flowers are composted and the rest are freshly cut and put into arrangements with fresh minerals.”
I found out about this unique, green charity when I met RAF Pinellas Advisory Board President, Pam Ora at MacKinnon Jewelers in Trinity. Tom MacKinnon and jewelry designer Phillip Gavriel donated a portion of proceeds from the Phillip Gavriel trunk show (held December 5th) to RAF Pinellas. Local businesses like MacKinnon Jewelers and Synovus Bank, who donated the van’s wrap as part of a signature sponsorship, have paved the way for other organizations to make a meaningful contribution and involve their employees who also enjoy serving this heartwarming mission.
RAF Pinellas volunteers collect donated flowers from weddings, memorial services, wholesale florists, grocery stores and churches, and even from individuals who have used flowers for a special occasions. The flowers are then refashioned into bouquets to deliver to local hospitals, hospices and assisted living facilities to those who need an emotional boost.
Imagine the joy and surprise of a 90-year-old lady receiving a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Now, imagine how great it must have been for the RAF volunteers when she shared that it was the first time in her life anyone had ever given her flowers! That is what happened during the very first delivery that the supporters of Random Acts of Flowers made at Mease Manor. Dawn was happy that her husband Jim Davis – who made a large donation to RAF by purchasing the delivery van for the organization – and her 20- year-old son Zachary were able to be there to share in the joy of that first delivery. Dawn’s daughter Isabella, 14, takes part too. In fact, RAF has proven to be a great bonding experience for its volunteers and their families.
Monica Kok’s daughter Megan volunteers making the beautiful bouquets, and her mother Helga donated the warehouse in Dunedin which is spacious and has a large, temperature-controlled room where the donated flowers are kept. Helga, Monica and Megan enjoy working together, three generations strong, to bring a smile to those who need in the form of a bouquet.
RAF Pinellas delivers on Tuesdays to local hospitals and on Thursdays to nursing homes, hospice care facilities and ALFs. The nurses and staff decide which patients are in need of a lift to receive a bouquet. On the day that I visited, volunteers were able to deliver 35 bouquets to patients. A delivery card is placed in each bouquet stating RAF’s mission on one side and the names of the donors on the other side.
How You Can Contribute
There are several ways to help. Of course, RAF would love to have the flowers donated from any events, as well as vases that can be used to hold the arrangements. Dawn’s Aunt, Nancy Donaldson of New Port Richey has already repurposed over 250 vases that she has collected from neighbors, friends and even yard sales.
Find out how you can donate flowers, hold a vase drive or volunteer, by calling Director of Mission Fulfillment, Monica Kok at 727-754-7974 Mon. – Fri., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. or email monica@RAFPinellas.org
Financial support is greatly appreciated as the entire operation is funded by the generosity of caring donors. Sponsorships available include Orchid Grower ($10,000+); Lily Grower ($5,000); Iris Grower ($2,500); Rose Grower ($1,000); Tulip Grower ($500); and Daisy Grower ($250). You can also take part in the 2013 Christmas Delivery Program. For a $500 donation, your name/logo will appear on 50 floral deliveries to patients on Christmas Day!
To donate funds, become a Sponsor or learn how to be a part of the 2013 Christmas Delivery Program, kindly contact Executive Director, Dawn LaCross at 727-512-4801, email her at dawn@RAFPinellas.org or visit www.RAFPinellas.org for more information.