DUNN — Growing up, Jefferey Surles remembers visiting nursing homes with his mother, a former nurse who specialized in geriatric care.

Recently Surles, a Cape Fear High School graduate who now owns a florist shop in Dunn, said he felt as if God was telling him to provide flowers to nursing home patients who are shut in during the coronavirus pandemic.

“My mama always said that these people are forgotten,” Surles said.

Similar to the “No Child Left Behind” slogan, he came up with the concept of “No Patient Left Behind.”

On Monday, he put a notice on Facebook about his plan to deliver flowers to those patients. By Friday, dozens of volunteers assembled at the Dunn Community Center to make flower arrangements to deliver to 19 nursing homes in the region later in the day.

More than $5,600 was raised to ensure more than 1,460 vases would be delivered to every patient at each nursing home.

Surles said volunteers and others made it possible, along with donations from the local community as well as Raleigh and Charlotte.

The man who made the donation from Charlotte, Surles said, has a mother who used to live in the Carolina Inn assisted living community in Fayetteville, and he wanted to ensure patients there had flowers delivered.

Another donor wanted to make sure bouquets were also sent to the nurse’s station to thank them for their work.

Stops included nursing homes in Warsaw, Clinton, Fayetteville, Eastover, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Benson, Dunn, Coats, Angier, Lillington and Newton Grove.

Plainview area resident Bonnie Byrd was among the volunteers helping. She said she came because she knows Surles and his mother. And her husband had an aunt in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.

“It’s just a heartfelt thing that we wanted to reach out because with this COVID, people can’t go see their families and we wanted to do something,” Byrd said, pausing between making arrangements.

JoAnn McLaurin of Wade has a 94-year-old aunt in a nursing home in Garner. She said her cousin has not been able to see her since March.“There are so many good people that want to do good things,” McLaurin said of why she was encouraged by community members coming together to do something for those in the nursing homes.Oliva Thompson, 10, Ben Thompson, 9, Wyatt West, 8, and Brandt West, 9 — who live in Dunn and Buies Creek — also wanted to help.When Surles told them about the flowers, all said in unison that “cards” go with flowers.“So the four amigos, AKA us, put together Project Cards to help Project Not Forgotten,” Brandt said.The kids made videos on Facebook asking other children to help make the cards.“The four of us can’t make 800 cards, but the whole community can,” Brandt said.“We’re all doing this for the community,” Ben said.And it’s the community who Surls said made the initiative possible.Jernigan’s Nursery & Trading Post donated vases, as did churches and others. Broadstreet Deli & Market donated coffee and gloves, Sheryl’s Catering donated lunch, Lowe’s donated masks, Thomas Drug Store donated gloves and […]