RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Jim McDonnell, of Cathedral City, is a hospice case manager and the founder of the Flower Bank. They call him the "Flower Man." Since 1993, he's delivered flowers 360 days a year to Coachella Valley hospitals, hospice and senior centers, all donated by local grocery stores.
"I have 100 bouquets in my car today, that's an average day," said McDonnell.
To get your hands on some, all it takes is an answer to one simple question, "Do you deserve kindness today?"
Receiving a bouquet of their favorite flowers is a beautiful and fresh surprise to brighten days and make patients and residents feel special.
"I think it's fabulous. There are a lot of people who don't get flowers here, especially this time of year," said Laura Loveday.
"I look at flowers as food for the soul. It's amazing how much joy an individual gets, especially one that's been in the hospital or homebound for years. To have them be recognized is an accomplishment," said McDonnell.
It's also occupational therapy for patients and their caregivers, such as Inez Gabriel and her mother, who design bouquets in vases of their own.
"It's one of those moments we're not just talking about pain. It's as if we were on her patio arranging her flowers in her rose garden," said Gabriel.
The flower bank delivers 300,000 flowers each year. McDonnell hopes to expand to the east end of the valley to deliver 500,000, but he needs the community's help to do it.
As the organization blossoms, it needs everything from volunteers to floral donations.
"The donor's name is usually on wrapper. It's good for the community to know who is providing such kindness," said McDonnell.
The flowers are sweet not just on Valentine's Day, but every day.
"Everyone needs a pick-me-up here and there and flowers do it wonderfully," said Loveday.
"You know I'll give them to my wife. She'll love them because she loves me," said Stan Pratt, a resident at Mirage Inn Senior Living.
To volunteer or donate, contact Jim McDonnell at Seamus@TheFlowerBank.org.
The Flower Bank is located at 32200 Cathedral Canyon, Cathedral City.