What one person may consider worthless could be highly prized by another. A North Carolina volunteer group is bringing new meaning to the phrase by refurbishing people’s old flowers and giving them to residents at local nursing homes to brighten their days. 

The Flowers for Friends project was started in 2012 by Elk River, NC, resident Brent Atwater after visiting her grandmother in a local healthcare facility. Atwater wanted to help residents who were “left isolated and alone.”

“I would notice at the end of every season, people would throw their plants away,” Atwater told local media. “So I started getting the plants, rehabbing them and fertilizing them and giving them to friends and people I knew who were alone in healthcare facilities.” 

She and a group of other volunteers would later join forces to collect the discarded plants, rehabilitate them and hand them out to nursing home residents, hospice and hospital patients. They also provide a specialized card with each plant. 

COVID-19 has changed things a bit for them. Instead of hand-delivering the flowers, volunteers must now drop them off at the front doors and wait for staff to distribute them. However, it’s the reaction from seniors once they get the flowers that keeps the group going. 

“The most rewarding part is taking the plants to the participants,” Atwater said. “Sometimes people say they have never gotten flowers in their life.”