A Pekin flower shop will give away bouquets next week as part of a national florist event meant to brighten people’s day.

As part of the Society of American Florist’s yearly Petal It Forward program, florists in more than 350 cities in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. will give away bouquets to random people. Each recipient will get two bouquets, one to keep and the other to give away to a family member, friend, co-worker or a complete stranger. For the second year, employees from the Greenhouse Flower Shoppe, 2025 Broadway St., Pekin, will stand outside Thortons gas station at 2820 Court St. to gift flowers on Oct. 24.

“I think it’s important to give back to the community,” said Marggie Seelye, owner of Greenhouse Flower Shoppe. “We think flowers are (a) very important part of life and happiness, and we want to share that with people who maybe don’t get flowers as often as they’d like; some of them maybe have never gotten flowers.”

Seelye found out about the event through the shop’s wholesaler. She said she wanted to take part, and the wholesaler gave them a deal on flowers that shop employees can give away on the day of the event.

Greenhouse employees will be arriving at Thortons around 9 a.m. Seelye doesn’t know exactly how long it’ll take to give out the 200 wrapped bouquets, but she guessed it would take a couple hours.

Thortons’ manager was initially reluctant to allow the Greenhouse to handout flowers outside the gas station when Seelye approached her with the idea last year, said Seelye. The manager allowed it after Seelye assured her that the flowers would be given away for free. Seelye believes that after the station manager saw the thought and happiness behind the event, she became more supportive of the idea, this year saying “absolutely” to Seelye’s request.

The event does publicize the flower shop, but it’s about more than that. It’s also fun, Seelye said. It’s fun to see the looks on people’s faces when they realize the flowers are free with no strings attached. Some, Seelye said, are flabbergasted.

Last year, there were people who wouldn’t take flowers, Seelye said. She believes there are those who can’t believe the flowers are completely free, so they don’t take them. Others, though, just say they don’t like flowers. Most, Seelye said, do accept the flowers, and they’re response can be emotional but reserved.

For some recipients, it can be a real bright spot of their day, said Greenhouse employee Kathy Blevins.

“Somebody may be having a bad day. You don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives,”  Blevins said. “And they’ll walk up, and (the flowers) will just immediately change their demeanor and their outlook for the day. And I think it’s something that they will remember, and they might call a friend and say, ‘You know what? This just made my day.’”

A lot of times people, upon receiving the bouquets, know exactly who they’re going to give one to “to make their day as well,” Seelye said. 

Seelye said people get so happy about receiving flowers partially due to their beauty, but it also comes down to the flowers’ finite lifespan. They’re only around for a short period of time, so they become more special.

Greenhouse employee Julie Vaughn said it also has to do with the versatility of flowers.

“Flowers have a way of saying anything that needs to be said,” Vaughn said. “(They’re) for any occasion. That’s one thing about flowers. They say it all.”

Those at the shop participate partially because it warms their hearts to put a smile on people’s faces, Seelye said. Blevins said with the state of the world being what it is, it’s important to do something like this.

“With all the bad things that we hear (about) on TV, “ Blevins said, “why not just take an hour or so out of your life and just make somebody happy, make them smile.”