Med Student Finds Beautiful Way To Lift Patients’ Spirits With Recycled Flowers.

People get married each and every day, and most of the time, the lush flower arrangements they pay so much money for wind up going to waste when the event is over.

Eleanor Love hopes to change that while making sure the blooms serve a higher purpose.

Eleanor has always loved flowers. Before she started medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University, she took a job working in a flower shop. Not only did she learn more about caring for cut flowers, but she also realized that these blossoms have an uncanny ability to lift people’s spirits no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. Even better, they can actually boost people’s health!

“Flowers have been shown to improve healing and rates of recovery from surgery,” Eleanor said. “They’ve been shown, of course, to improve people’s mental health and to lift people’s spirits.”


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She was in her fourth year of med school when she first heard about a program on the West Coast that recycles wedding and funeral flowers to give to hospital patients. Inspired, she decided to start her own program at VCU Medical Center, which she called The Simple Sunflower.

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The Simple Sunflower works by asking couples ahead of time if they would like to donate their flowers. Most say yes, so Eleanor and her team of volunteers head over to collect the flowers and process them in a volunteer room at the hospital.

Together, they take the best blooms and create floral arrangements that will last for several days. After putting them on a cart, they deliver them to patients at VCU Medical Center.

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Eleanor’s initiative began in 2019 and continues to this day, even though she has since graduated from medical school. There are now more than 200 volunteers working on The Simple Sunflower at VCU Medical Center, and they have brought more than 760 bouquets to grateful patients there.

“Volunteers have been thrilled to be able to deliver to patients an unexpected gift that will brighten their day,” said Amanda Landes, the director of VCU Health Volunteer Services. “And people seem to enjoy the story of how The Simple Sunflower came to be and that it is making good use of something that otherwise would be discarded.”

What a beautiful way to reduce waste while also giving an uplifting and much-needed gift to those who need it most. We hope more hospitals follow Eleanor’s lead across the nation.

Learn more about The Simple Sunflower in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.

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