Florists Collect 858 Children’s Books for Public Libraries
Jill Williams, manager of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ Lancaster, Pennsylvania, (left) offers Renee Christiansen, youth services manager of the Library System of Lancaster County, children’s books customers donated during the company’s “Bouquets for Books” program
Sister companies Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts and Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts recently concluded their 13th annual “Bouquets for Books” program, collecting 858 new children’s titles for public libraries in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Since its inception, “Bouquets for Books” has collected more than 20,000 books. From October 28 through November 10, the companies — which have 19 stores among them — offered
customers a free bouquet in exchange for a new children’s book. “It got a great response,” said Jill Williams, manager of Royer’s flagship store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “Our customers are very generous.”
The companies tie the book drive into their “Kids Club” program, during which a designer and an assistant or two help children between ages 5 and 12 create a simple arrangement. Kids’ classes are complimentary; participants are simply asked to donate a book. Held four or five times a year, the “Kids Club” events draw about 20 children to the shop on each occasion. “It’s a great way to build a rapport with future flower buyers,” Williams said, adding
that participants and their parents often become regular customers.
“We want to give back to the communities that have given back so much to us,” said Greg Royer, president and CEO of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts. “We generally do things that focus on children, as we want to get them to grow up with an appreciation for flowers.”
In the spring, the companies have a similar initiative, except they offer bouquets in exchange for non-perishable food items. “We asked the Pennsylvania Food Bank when the need is the greatest,” Royer said. “They said
they’re hurting in the late spring and summer. There’s a surge in demand because kids aren’t in school, receiving lunches. And people simply aren’t thinking about the hungry like they do during the winter holidays.” The companies advertised “Bouquets for Books” through e-blasts, printed flyers and local publicity.
“Prior to an event, we try to get on a tv morning show to announce it,” Royer said. “We usually get a nice response from media outlets, who are happy to promote positive things in the community.” He called charitable endeavors a no-brainier for local businesses. “Customers appreciate companies that do-good deeds,” he said. “And it’s personally gratifying to help.”
Royer's Flowers & Gifts has 15 stores in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties in Pennsylvania. Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts has one store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Connells Maple Lee has three stores in Bexley, Grove City and Powell, Ohio.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.