The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday October 16th

Daffodils for a cause: Chapel Hill teen sells flowers to raise donations for charity

Rebecca Mills, 18, of Chapel Hill, waits to sell a daffodil at the Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Mills has sold flowers from her backyard to benefit charity for 14 years. "I feel like it's very important to help people with what you have. I have the opportunity to be able to cut all of these flowers in my backyard," she said. "I feel like it would be silly to not use that opportunity."
Buy Photos Rebecca Mills, 18, of Chapel Hill, waits to sell a daffodil at the Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Mills has sold flowers from her backyard to benefit charity for 14 years. "I feel like it's very important to help people with what you have. I have the opportunity to be able to cut all of these flowers in my backyard," she said. "I feel like it would be silly to not use that opportunity."

A senior at East Chapel Hill high school has been cutting daffodils from her backyard and selling them on Franklin Street since she was five years old.

When Rebecca Mills and her siblings were kids, their dad had the triplets sell daffodils for ten cents each to the community as a way to teach them about saving money.

“I had them donate a third of their profits, spend a third and save a third,” Jonathan Mills, her dad, said. 


Rebecca Mills (left), 18, of Chapel Hill, and Dalia Marquez (right), 17, of Carrboro, prepare a bunch of flowers at the Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Mills has sold flowers from her backyard to benefit charity for 14 years. "I feel like it's very important to help people with what you have. I have the opportunity to be able to cut all of these flowers in my backyard," she said. "I feel like it would be silly to not use that opportunity."


As Rebecca Mills and her siblings reached middle school, she started selling the daffodils by herself. She stationed her flower stand outside the Peace and Justice Plaza. On Sundays, she said her stand usually receives about $200 from community members including students and local churchgoers. 

As she grew up, rather than just donating a third of her profits to charity, Rebecca Mills started donating every last cent she made to charity. 

“It’s all about supporting the community in any way I can,” she said. “I have this great ability, this great access to cut flowers from my backyard, so I might as well use it to help people.”


Rebecca Mills (left), 18, of Chapel Hill, and Dalia Marquez (right), 17, of Carrboro, stand in the Peace and Justice Plaza to sell daffodils on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Mills has sold flowers from her backyard to benefit charity for 14 years. "I feel like it's very important to help people with what you have. I have the opportunity to be able to cut all of these flowers in my backyard," she said. "I feel like it would be silly to not use that opportunity." Marquez initially joined to hang out with her friend, but realized the good it was doing.


Rebecca Mills said she estimates she has donated about $2,000 to local charities including Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), a suicide prevention organization, and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. 

Last year, she donated almost $1,300 to SAVE. This year, she will be donating her profits to TABLE — a nonprofit in Orange County that provides hunger relief and nutrition education services to children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County regions. 

“I chose TABLE because I really appreciate what they do in the community,” she said. “I can see how much it helps in schools ... everyone knows it’s so much harder to learn when you are hungry.”

Jonathan Mills said this has been a very important learning experience for his daughter throughout the years.

“It was always heartwarming to see how much people were willing to donate," he said. "Even though they only charged 10 cents per daffodil, people would give them two or three dollars.” 


Rebecca Mills, 18, of Chapel Hill, holds a snipped flower at the Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Mills has sold flowers from her backyard to benefit charity for 14 years. "I feel like it's very important to help people with what you have. I have the opportunity to be able to cut all of these flowers in my backyard," she said. "I feel like it would be silly to not use that opportunity."


This year will be Rebecca Mills' last year selling daffodils as she plans to go to college in the fall. Sunday was her last day selling daffodils. 

“Rebecca is an avid snowboarder, and I was shocked when I asked her last weekend if she wanted to go snowboarding this weekend and she said no,” her dad said. “She told me ‘This is the last weekend I can sell daffodils.’"

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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