By Kate Daly | Special to the Almanac
A new nonprofit is starting to bloom here, based on the idea of collecting free flowers and giving them to people to cheer them up.
The warehouse space at 3501 Edison Way in North Fair Oaks is the fourth location for Random Acts of Flowers. Started seven years ago in Tennessee, the nonprofit has expanded to Florida and Chicago, delivering more than 66,000 bouquets to date.
The nonprofit's slogan, "Recycling flowers ... Delivering smiles," has a back-story. Founder Larsen Jay ended up in the hospital for weeks after falling off a ladder. He received so many get-well bouquets he decided to roll around the halls in his wheelchair and share them with other patients. Their warm smiles spurred him on to find a way to repeat that experience on a broader scale.
The first step has been collecting gently used flowers from local sources such as event planners involved with weddings, parties and funerals. Vendors such as J Floral Art, Costco, Whole Foods Market and California Flower Shippers have committed to donating their surplus flowers, as well.
Donated vases and baskets are rolling in. Oak Knoll Elementary School is hosting a vase drive in Menlo Park.
Volunteers are being trained on how to deconstruct and rearrange bouquets so they are ready to be delivered by volunteer drivers to hospitals and senior care facilities in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County.
Executive Director Linda Plount says the group works closely with caregivers to identify appropriate recipients.
"I am so excited by the reaction we are getting in the community with all the high-tech businesses in the area," she says. "I hear people say, 'It's just so simple, I can get behind this.'"
The organization calls itself a "green" charity because floral supplies, such as ribbons, are reused and even rejected flowers are composted.
Local board members include President Gillian Growdon, Camille Kennedy and Sandy McNamara of Menlo Park; Stephie Johnson of Atherton; and Dan Francis of Woodside.
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