For nearly 30 years, a Pennsylvania foundation has handed out flowers to seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Current foundation members have no plans of letting the tradition fall by the wayside this year. 

“It is a simple act of kindness that just hits the heart I think. Maybe because the flower, corsage or boutonniere, is near the heart,” said Jerry Gilpatrick, a volunteer with the Shamrock Heart Foundation of Lackawanna County. 

The Scranton-based organization began the tradition 29 years ago after a member decided to buy a flower for his mother who was staying in a local hospital during St. Patrick’s Day. The random act of kindness was celebrated by everyone and grew into a bigger group project to help those in nursing homes and hospitals, Gilpatrick told local media.

Now, hundreds of volunteers spend the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day making thousands of corsages and boutonnieres in order to hand out to residents and patients over the holiday weekend.  

“We decided we’d help out a little bit because we have so much and volunteering would be a good thing to help others,” first-time volunteer John Kubash said.

This year, the foundation expects to hand out about 4,400 floral arrangements to local nursing home residents and hospital patients. 

“[It] gives them a little smile,” Kubash said. “Something to hope for.”