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Local florist delivers bouquets to unsuspecting widows

Local florist delivers bouquets to unsuspecting widows

CHICO — The day she unwillingly laid off her employees was the same day florist Rachelle Neal received a phone call from a bride informing her that the wedding, which was to take place the next day, had been canceled, leaving Neal with hundreds of flowers with little use. Neal found a way to turn her circumstances into something positive. As she laid off her employees, she gave them one final assignment: “Make people’s day.” She handed over the unused flowers and told them to arrange them however they saw fit, and to place them on their neighbor’s doorsteps. “Someone has to enjoy them,” Neal said. “Otherwise I would sit there and cry about flowers dying in my cooler.” Her employees chimed in to make sure Neal was OK with giving away hundreds of flowers for free while the business is struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We might as well make other people’s lives bright in these very uncertain times,” Neal said. She equipped each employee with buckets of flowers and boxes of vases, packing their cars to the brim. XXXX “I can’t have flowers out of water. That would kill me,” she said. Those vases will likely not return to the flower shop, but Neal does not mind. She herself took on the assignment. Two of her deliveries were to widows she thought might be suffering with loneliness during this time. The first was Melba Keeling. “Well, I thought I heard somebody knocking at the door. By the time I opened it up, here on my porch was this gorgeous bouquet,” Keeling said. “It was such a good feeling.” The origin story of their relationship began 10 years ago at church. Keeling, while in her 70s, “adopted” Neal’s husband, John, a single father in his 30s. She wanted […]

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