Last Saturday Lynda Maxey showed up to the Haile Farmers Market like usual, but this week, her normal vendor didn’t have any leftover flowers.
Maxey approached a different vendor with the same result.
Since Easter, Maxey has been dropping off flowers at the E.T. York Hospice Care Center in Gainesville. She said the thought hit her that patients at the center might like some flowers for Easter.
“It just popped into my head to take them some flowers,” Maxey said in a phone interview.
The first week, she bought some potted tulips, and she did the same the next week.
“I always go out to Haile’s Farmers Market on Saturdays,” Maxey said. “So, I approached one of the vendors there.”
A vendor agreed to donate leftover flowers for Maxey to take to the hospice center, but this past Saturday, the well ran dry.
“I thought, ‘Well, if I have to buy a bouquet or two, then OK—that’s what’ll happen today,’” Maxey recalled.
Trusting her intuition, she saw a picture in her mind of the Publix in Newberry Square. She resisted the thought, not wanting to get into traffic by I-75.
She tried another store with no luck, so she relented to her instinct and drove to the Publix in Newberry Square.
Upon entering, Maxey saw the manager, Alkissa Campbell, and asked her if Publix would like to donate any flowers. Campbell guided her to the floral department.
Campbell handed Maxey some bouquets and said the flowers were on her.
Maxey thanked her for the flowers already in her hand, but Campbell said she wanted to give some more.
“I was kinda taken aback a little bit,” Maxey said.
Campbell explained that she had just won a $40 scratch off ticket and wanted to use all of it on the flowers. She handed Maxey a total of 10 bouquets before heading to the front, cashing in her lottery ticket and paying for the flowers—including the tax that pushed the total cost above $40.
Maxey convinced Campbell to take a picture with the bouquets, explaining that she usually posts a photo of the hospice worker with the flowers to a Facebook group called Gainesville Word of Mouth.
She delivered the flowers, and the hospice worker told her the amount was perfect because the center had more patients than usual.
After posting the story, Maxey said she got a lot of feedback. Much more than her typical posts about delivering flowers. Proof, Maxey said, that Campbell had inspired people.
“She could have taken her scratch off lotto winnings and done something else with the money,” Maxey said. “And she chose to do something really kind for hospice patients which was really sweet and loving.”
Kerry Stroh, the unit secretary at the hospice center, receives the flowers from Maxey every other week while another hospice worker gets them on alternate weeks. She said the workers make the bouquets from the flowers they get and give them to patients and family members.
“It’s really, really sweet,” Stroh said. “It brightens their day and their room and gives them a little bit of color.”
She said wedding parties will sometimes donate their centerpieces and flowers, but that’s an uncommon and unpredictable stream of donations, unlike Maxey’s visits.
“It’s nice to be able to have fresh flowers pretty much on the regular,” Stroh said.
On Wednesday, four days after Campbell bought the flowers, she called Maxey with more good news. Publix was going to extend Maxey a credit of $500 worth of flowers for whenever she needed help gathering enough flowers for the hospice center.
Maxey was over the moon.
“I’m still just completely amazed by that,” she said.