As they walked through the doors, a woman stopped to look at the flowers.
“It must be someone’s lucky day,” Shannon Haldeman remembered her saying.
The woman’s face lit up when volunteers said, “These are for you.”
She’d been at the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center for two weeks with her child and no family nearby, Haldeman said.
Moments like that are the reason Haldeman, a graduate student in public health at the University of Pittsburgh, started Scent with Love. The all-volunteer organization takes donated flowers from weddings and other events and brings them to places like the Children’s Home in Bloomfield, Bethlehem Haven in Bluff and Family House in Oakland and Shadyside.
While people have donated wedding flowers to the Children’s Home in the past, having someone who facilitates that is a great addition, said Abby Kirstein, marketing and outreach manager there.
When Scent with Love brings flowers, they brighten up the lobby, which is the first place that people see, whether they are there for the adoption center, the daycare or the pediatric speciality hospital. Walking in to a new hospital can be intimidating for some patients and families, so the flowers are a welcoming addition, she said.
“It really is those little things,” Kirstein said, adding that the flowers make the center feel a little more like home for those who spend a lot of time there.
Haldeman first thought of the idea after a friend’s April wedding in Pittsburgh. The couple, however, lives in Hawaii, so they couldn’t take much with them and gave away centerpieces. Haldeman said she took 10, but there were still more left — and that’s when she thought of the idea for Scent with Love. She did some research and when a friend asked if she wanted to start with flowers from a June wedding, Haldeman jumped in.
Just two months old, Scent with Love already has two or three donor weddings lined up each weekend through the new year, Haldeman said. While she’s mostly getting donations from weddings now, she hopes to expand to other events, so the list of delivery sites can grow, too.
Flowers on displaycourtesy of shannon haldeman
How it works
To make sure the flowers stay fresh, the turnaround is quick.
Haldeman and volunteers go to wedding venues to pick up flowers after the reception around 11 p.m., she said. “It is late for a lot of people, but a lot of times people want to pickup and deliver.”
She or another volunteer keeps the flowers overnight before the fun part, making morning deliveries, when girls run around with bridesmaids’ bouquets and adults smile at unexpected gifts.
Haldeman admitted that she “was never a huge flower person” before, but there’s something about getting them as a gift and knowing others are thinking of you.
“Having flowers delivered gives you hope,” she said.
How to help
- Sign up to donate, receive flowers, or volunteer to deliver flowers on Scent with Love’s website. You can also sign up to volunteer via Facebook. Volunteers of all ages are welcome.
- Haldeman is also fundraising for business expenses, including vases since florists often want to keep their vases from an event. (She also said she’d take donated vases, too.) Learn more here.