“You can purchase a gift for someone you know that is feeling lonely or send some succulents to a long-term care facility that is no longer allowing visitors,” said Jessica Girard of Growing Smiles Fundraising. (Submitted)

Community plant sale in Surrey to help support food bank and community groups

Growing Smiles Fundraising has created a new way to give back to the community during COVID-19

A Fraser Valley-based fundraising group that typically helps schools, sports teams and community groups raise money through plant sales has shifted its focus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Growing Smiles Fundraising is holding several community plant sales in B.C. throughout the month of May, including one in Surrey, all while supporting local food banks and other community groups.

“You can purchase a gift for someone you know that is feeling lonely or send some succulents to a long-term care facility that is no longer allowing visitors,” said Jessica Girard of Growing Smiles Fundraising. “We could all use a little support right now.”

How it works: folks go online and order plants like hanging baskets, assorted herbs and geraniums. Ten per cent of the sale goes to the local food bank or community group of your choice. Plants are then picked up at a later date during a certain time slot at a central location, using a no-contact, drive-through system.

In Surrey, orders need to be placed by 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, via the website growingsmilesfundraising.com. Pickup is on Wednesday, May 20 at a location to be announced.

“Right now, 10 per cent of every order is going directly to the Surrey Food Bank Society,” Girard said. “We are expecting a few schools and community centres to join the list as options that people can support as well.”

Growing Smiles, a division of DeVry Greenhouses, has organized fundraisers for more than 15 years, selling flowers, annuals, herbs and veggies in the spring and poinsettias and greenery in the winter. Groups buy the plants at wholesale costs and sell them to friends and family for a profit. Funds raised usually contribute to PACs, playgrounds, sports trips, grad ceremonies, dance tuitions, specialized surgeries and more.

Typically, the groups run the fundraisers themselves. However, with school closures, event cancellations and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, many of them had to cancel their annual spring fundraisers, so Growing Smiles Fundraising decided to create this new community plant sale fundraisers instead.

The community plant sale allows people to buy plants safely all while helping support the community. Additionally, greenhouses will avoid composting thousands of veggies, herbs, annuals and hanging baskets.

“It’s really uplifting to see the number of people choosing to give back to their local food bank and support the most vulnerable people in these times,” Girard said.

Growing Smiles Fundraising also has community plant sales scheduled in other areas of the province, including Langley, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

with a file from Tom Zillich

RELATED: ‘I just want to survive:’ Greenhouses struggling with economic reality of COVID-19

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With schools closed and events cancelled, Growing Smiles Fundraising has switched its efforts to community plant sales which support local food banks and community groups. (Submitted)

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