DUNEDIN — Dorothy Snavely doesn’t have family nearby.
So, when a legion of buoyant people fanned out across the second and third floors of Mease Manor Retirement Community Wednesday with bright bouquets of flowers in hand, the 93-year-old called it a special occasion.
“I’ve never had anybody give me flowers,” Snavely said, as she held a vase of maroon, orange and gold daisies.
“I’m so happy. Y’all made my day.”
Volunteers with a charity that’s new to the area, Random Acts of Flowers, plan to surprise many more people at nursing homes, hospices and hospitals across Pinellas County.
The nonprofit organization, based in Knoxville, Tenn., collects fresh flowers from weddings, funerals and other events that would otherwise be thrown away and delivers them to elderly people who may not have family in the area.
When Dunedin resident Dawn LaCross heard about the concept, she gathered a group of volunteers and urged founder Larsen Jay to make her community the first outpost in a national expansion.
“We have so many people that we can make a difference in their lives right here,” said LaCross, executive director of the Pinellas branch of Random Acts of Flowers.
The operation runs completely on financial donations, volunteer effort and flowers collected from the community.
Jay said the organization he started six years ago has made 28,000 flower deliveries so far, all of them repurposed from other events.
“We basically turn trash into treasures, or garbage into grins,” he said.
A near-fatal accident that left Jay hospitalized for an extended time led to the idea.
Not everyone was surrounded by supportive family members bringing flowers, food and company like he was.
“When we went out to the halls, we just noticed how many rooms around us had no flowers, no plants, no life or energy,” Jay said.
There was a wave of energy on the assisted living floors of Mease Manor Wednesday as volunteers knocked on doors and made their unexpected deliveries.
Some residents were puzzled at first why a group of strangers mixed with staff were bringing them flowers.
“You’re just doing this to be nice, is that it?” said Ginger Chapin.
“That’s very nice.”