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Local Florists Join Forces To Benefit MOW

This year, two Farmville florists are taking Good Neighbor Day to heart. Carters Flower Shop and Rochette's Florist have combined forces to make the annual event a real neighborhood effort.

“This is our first year working together,” stated Sid Allen, of Rochette's Florist.

“We believe that Good Neighbor Day is strengthened by combining our efforts,” added Carolyn Jones, of Carters Flower Shop. “It helps bring all of our neighbors together in a special way.

Good Neighbor Day is set for September 1, earlier than usual this year. On that day everyone in town may visit the two local florists to receive a dozen roses – free of charge.

The money raised above the cost of the flowers will benefit still more neighbors in the community – clients of Meals on Wheels.

Both Allen and Carter credit local sponsors with the success of Good Neighbor Day in the past.

“The first few years we gave a minimal amount of flowers,” Jones related. “When sponsors got on board it enabled us to do more.”

In previous years both florists found that when people received free roses they felt compelled to give something in return.

“The day that people picked flowers up they wanted to give us money,” Allen explained. “We put out a bucket for donations and also started taking the sponsorship in that direction.”

“A lot of people didn't want to accept a dozen roses without giving something,” Jones agreed. “That's what started it. We chose Meals on Wheels as the recipient of the donations.”

Both florists agreed that Good Neighbor Day brings out the best in everyone.

“It's amazing – you walk around town and there's roses everywhere!” Jones observed.

“It's a delight to see the look on someone's face when you simply hand them a flower,” Allen agreed. “It's a heart-touching experience.”

Carolyn Spillman, director of development for Farmville's SCOPE/Meals on Wheels, commented on the holiday atmosphere that accompanies Good Neighbor Day.

“When I worked for Wal-Mart they would just let us go during the day to pick up our roses – not just at lunchtime,” she recalled. “It's one of those days that makes you glad to be in a small town.”

People from surrounding communities also head for Farmville to take part.

“I had one lady who called from Richmond and wanted to come by on her lunch hour to get roses,” Allen said with a smile. “I told her she might need to take a two-hour lunch break!”

“The staff of the nursing homes and the nurses from the hospital all come over so they can give roses to every patient,” Jones said. “We had roses for every person who walked in our door last year. We ordered 860-some dozen.”

“On one Good Neighbor Day a lady walked into the shop with a list of 11 people she was going to visit,” Allen recalled. “Soon after lunch she came back with the one rose she was to keep for herself. She gave it to my mother (Rochette Allen) to thank her for allowing her such a wonderful day to spread all that joy.”

While spreading joy flower by flower is an integral part of Good Neighbor Day, it has come to encompass a wider circle of neighbors – the homebound who depend on a daily visit from Meals on Wheels.

“Meals on Wheels provides personal contact,” Spillman noted. “If you go to work and grandma's at home, you know that in four hours someone is going to be there to check on her.”

In addition to a hot, nutritious meal, Meals on Wheels volunteers often provide a variety of other services.

“There was one client who was getting the news that her sister had died when the driver knocked on the door,” Spillman related. “The driver was also a minister, so he called another driver and stayed with that client all afternoon.”

Sometimes Meals on Wheels clients repay the drivers with their own acts of kindness.

“We have a client who has a big apple tree in her yard,” Spillman continued. “She went out in the morning and banged on the tree with her cane. For a couple of weeks she gave every one of her drivers a bag of apples.”

Allen and Jones agree that neighborly actions are par for the course in Farmville. If, in fact, acts of kindness were flowers, bouquets would abound all over town.

“The fact that two florists in a town the size of Farmville participate in Good Neighbor Day is reflective of how civic-minded our businesses are – and how generous our citizens are,” Allen concluded.

“We're working together to make Good Neighbor Day a success,” Jones added. “It just shows what a friendly town Farmville really is.”