Photos taken by Madelyn Stone, Sophia Carter
Random Acts of Flowers is a National nonprofit that delivers recycled flowers to individuals in healthcare facilities. Their mission is to improve the emotional health and mental well-being of others.
Random Acts of Flower’s Knoxville chapter has had a widespread positive impact with over 166,490 deliveries in the community. Volunteers average about 1,300 deliveries a month.
Alison Slavic, the executive director of Random Acts of Flowers, shared her appreciation for their volunteers.
“Our volunteers and staff here are incredible about making as many buckets of flowers that come into as many arrangements as possible,” Slavic said.
The organization relies on floral donations as their bouquets are made entirely from recycled materials. This can present a problem as resources are limited.
Ellen Anderson, a former UT professor and current volunteer at Random Acts of Flowers explains how volunteers keep up with high demand in times of scarcity.
“When we don’t have a lot of flowers we make bouquets that are almost all greens or use the bows as flowers,” Anderson said.
The dedication of the volunteers to their community does not go unnoticed. Their impact can be seen weekly on the faces of recipients. Typically, these are people in the community who lack support and have been in the healthcare facility for an extended time.
81% of recipients reported they had not received flowers outside of the Random Acts of Flowers delivery. 11.3% of recipients said the volunteers were the only visitors they had during their hospital stay (Random Acts of Flowers).
Debbie Fettig, the Program Manager, shared her experience with deliveries.
“Most always they are astonished and puzzled as to why they are getting flowers; we love the surprise factor. Some people want to know how much they are until we explain our mission and then they are so touched and sometimes to tears, no matter what, it's always a positive interaction,” Fettig said.
The charity offers many opportunities for UT Students looking to get involved in the community.
Cheryl Grey, a long-time UT fan and Knoxville local, currently represents the UT community in the bouquets she makes. Although Grey did not attend UT she sees UT’s impact on the Knoxville community.
“I always chose to do an ode to UT because their colors are so pretty and bright,” Grey said.
Students who do not have an extended amount of time to volunteer can help Random Acts of Flowers in numerous ways.
Spreading the word about donating flowers to Random Acts of Flowers at local events helps keep the flower materials from these events out of landfills.
Students with cars may also volunteer to help pick up floral donations at grocery stores, funeral homes and event centers. Occasionally, volunteer groups are needed to help with facility tasks such as washing vases or taking out the trash.
Slavic believes that no matter how to choose to help it will have a positive impact on your life.
“Volunteering makes you forget about yourself and understand that there are things that are more important. The biggest thing that I think that you get in return is the fulfillment of knowing that you put good back out into the world,” Slavic said.
Fettig and Slavic both shared their hope for future expansion. Slavic anticipates with the magnitude of deliveries they will eventually outgrow their Knoxville workshop and need to expand. Fetig noted two new locations that are opening in Asheville, North Carolina, and central Texas. Both women seem hopeful their mission will continue to reach new people in the future.