The first step the organization takes in putting together bouquets for patients is collecting containers to put the flowers in.
Barbara Cheek, owner of the thrift store Barbara’s Hidden Treasures, has donated boxes of vases from her store to Heeling Flowers.
“I thought that what they did was amazing,” Cheek said. “They do it all themselves and they do it out of the kindness of their hearts.”
Heeling Flowers takes container donations not only from generous businesses but also from yard sales and resources such as the UNC Free and For Sale Facebook page.
The project has gotten crafty, advertising on its Facebook page that even used pasta jars and soup cans can be repurposed to hold flowers.
The next step in the bouquet-making process is finding the flowers.
Heeling Flowers picks up unwanted flowers, free of charge, after events where the flowers used would otherwise be disposed of.
According to Stember, most of the flower donations they receive come from weddings.
“Every bride we’ve talked to has been so grateful because it’s one less thing they have to deal with after their wedding,” Gutgsell said. “They don’t have to feel sad about throwing away the flowers because now they can repurpose them.”
After the vases and flowers have been received, the pair’s creative juices begin to flow.
Stember and Gutgsell then rearrange the flowers, decorate the containers, and add signature tags with messages like “best wishes” and “thinking of you.”
Once the arrangements have been prepared, the pair hands off the bouquets to Volunteer Services at UNC Health Care. The nurses on each floor then decide which patients to deliver flowers to that day.
Linda Bowles, director of UNC Health Care Volunteer Services, thinks the project is a great idea.
“It fills a need for patients who don’t have family or friends who are able to visit or bring flowers,” Bowles said. “It’s a nice way to brighten up their day and make the day special.”
For their work, Stember and Gutgsell were nominated in March to be WCHL’s Hometown Heroes.
“I’m just really grateful for the community for being so supportive of this endeavor and hopefully the organization can grow beyond the two of us if we can receive more donations and have more helping hands,” Stember said.