400 North Carolina widows receive surprise flowers on Valentine’s Day


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400 North Carolina widows receive surprise flowers on Valentine's Day

400 North Carolina widows receive surprise flowers on Valentine’s Day

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Celebrating Valentine’s Day after losing a partner or spouse is undoubtedly difficult, so one North Carolina woman stepped up to help.

This Valentine’s Day, Charlotte mom of four Ashley Manning and a team of volunteers delivered flowers and gift bags to 400 widows across the city.

Manning, a pharmaceutical sales rep turned stay-at-home mom, started the endeavor shortly after turning her hobby into a business in late 2020.

“When I started AE Manning’s Pretty Things, I started thinking about Valentine’s Day,” Manning said, noting that over the years she’s made Valentine’s Day bouquets for her children’s teachers and family and friends going through difficult times. “I think I now have a platform that maybe can get more people involved.”

Last year, Manning shared her thoughts on Instagram about sending flowers to women who won’t receive flowers from their deceased partners or spouses on Valentine’s Day.

Within hours of her posting, according to Manning, she received hundreds of dollars in donations and the names of dozens of women nominated by others.

Thanks to Manning’s efforts, last Valentine’s Day, 121 women and 2 men opened their doors with a surprise floral arrangement and a gift bag with the lyrics, “Never a moment you’re forgotten.” Lauren Daiger’s Rescue”.

One of the women was Jordan Meggs, who spent her first Valentine’s Day without her husband Daniel, who died of colon cancer on February 21, 2020, when Meggs was pregnant with her first A child 37 weeks.

“I didn’t expect it, I was shocked and surprised by something so sweet,” Meggs said of the flowers and gift bags. “Before, I never thought about what a widow would do on Valentine’s Day, just thinking about other people all the time with Ashley. That’s who she is.”

For this year’s effort, Manning raised more than $22,000 and oversaw 300 volunteers who assembled more than 13,000 flowers into flower arrangements for 400 widows.

In addition to flowers, the women received a gift bag containing wine, gifts and gift cards donated by local businesses, according to Manning.

“It snowballs, but it’s good to see good things snowball,” said Manning, who oversaw the work this year while recovering from an eye injury that left her blind in one eye. “They say pain likes company, but I think happiness likes company too.”

This year, several women were among the volunteers who came to the Mannings to assemble flowers and hampers, including Meggs, who received flowers last year.

And this year, one of the arrangements and gift bags went to Megs’ mother-in-law, whose husband died unexpectedly last year.

“She would be in total shock and I’m sure it would make her happy and make her smile,” Meggs said. “Like my husband, my mother-in-law loves Valentine’s Day. She instilled that in my husband, and that’s what made him so special to me over the years.”

Manning said she’s turning the project, which she calls the Valentine’s Widow Program, into a nonprofit so she can continue to expand and reach more women.

She said she’s received countless thank-you messages from women who have received flowers, and she’s glad to see family and friends doing what they can to start a similar effort, as her sister did to her widow with Valentine’s Day flowers at her gym.

“The most important thing I’ve learned from this whole outreach is when you feel that whatever is pulling at your heart, because the world is full of sadness and hard things and some people are in pain every day, when When you feel that nudge, really listen to it,” Manning said. “Whether it’s a widow, a widower, a soldier’s spouse, or whatever touches your heart, just listen, and the rewards are far greater.”

“The joy of giving to your heart is unbelievable,” she said.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures.

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