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Couples can spend thousands of dollars on flowers for their weddings, without knowing what to do with them when the big day is over. Eleanor Love has a solution: Give them to her and let her team turn the stems into brand new bouquets for patients at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.
While attending Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Love, 27, wanted to lift the spirits of severely ill patients. Before starting medical school, Love worked at a florist, and she knew studies have shown flowers and plants in hospital rooms help patients heal. Love told The Washington Post she decided to start calling wedding coordinators, to see if the brides and grooms they were working with would be willing to give her their flowers once their ceremonies and receptions were over, for her to repurpose into bouquets for patients.
Love launched her project, The Simple Sunflower, in Richmond, Virginia, in 2019, and nearly every couple she has called has been happy to donate their flowers to the cause. There are now more than 200 volunteers, who do everything from flower pickup to making new bouquets to delivering them to hospitals. Over the last two years, more than 760 bouquets have been dropped off at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.
First on the list to receive bouquets are patients in palliative care, and the flowers they receive look just as beautiful in their rooms as they did during the weddings. Love, now doing a residency at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, told the Post that “being able to help deliver the flowers to those patients is very meaningful because you just see those patients’ faces light up. You connect with them on a different level.”