Florists are some of the busiest people in February. With approximately 30% of floral transactions happening for Valentine’s Day, millions of people are getting special deliveries during this time.
However, one florist realized there is a group of people who struggle through the annual holiday of love: widows. So she started an organization that presented flowers to about 800 widows for Valentine’s Day this year.
Ashley Manning, owner of Pretty Things by A.E. Manning in Charlotte, North Carolina, launched The Valentine’s Day Widow Outreach Project after she talked with her son’s preschool teacher three years ago.
During that conversation, Manning learned the educator was a widow. She wanted to do something with her floral talents to brighten her day. So, she got busy with a Valentine’s Day surprise.
“I made an arrangement for my son’s preschool teacher and she was taken aback by it,” Manning told CBS MoneyWatch. “It meant a lot to her.”
Manning’s single act of kindness inspired her to think bigger. What if she could touch the hearts of other widows in the Charlotte area? She reached out through her social media accounts to find both widows and donations (of either money or time) to help put together enough flowers and gift bags for 50 women.
The response more than doubled Manning’s goal. Many volunteers arrived to help organize the gift bags, arrange the flowers and then deliver the packages to women on Valentine’s Day.
Last year, Valentine’s Widow Outreach served 400 widows.
In 2023, that number doubled to 800.
Manning now dedicates her Valentine’s Day work only to her beloved outreach project, telling CBS that the hours of planning, coordinating, and work require her full attention during this busy time.
To her, though, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s a labor of love on the day of the year when some people may feel left out.
“The littlest things that we do sometimes mean so much,” she said in a Community Voices video shared by Meta.