CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It is difficult to mark Valentine’s Day after the death of a spouse, partner, or partner. So one North Carolina woman has stepped up and offered her support.
Ashley Manning, mother of four from Charlotte, and a group of volunteers delivered flowers to 400 widows throughout the city this Valentine’s Day.
Manning, a former pharmaceutical sales rep and stay-at-home mother, started the effort last year shortly after turning her hobby of flower arrangement into a business in 2020.
“When I began” Pretty Things by A.E. ManningManning stated that she thought about Valentine’s Day when Manning was thinking about it. Manning noted that she has made Valentine’s Day bouquets for her children’s teachers and for family friends who are going through difficult times for many years. “I thought, I have a platform now to maybe involve more people.”
Last year, Manning shared via InstagramHer idea was to send flowers to women who would not be receiving them on Valentine’s Day from their spouse or partner.
Manning reports that she received hundreds of dollars in donations within hours of her posting and the names of dozens more women who had been nominated.
Manning’s efforts enabled 121 women to open their doors to surprise arrangements of flowers and a giftbag with a note including the lyrics on Valentine’s Day. “There’s never been a moment you were forgotten,”From the song “Rescue”Lauren Daigle
Jordan Meggs was one such woman. She was celebrating her first Valentine’s Day sans her husband, Daniel Meggs. Meggs was 37-weeks pregnant with their first baby when Daniel died from colon cancer.
“I wasn’t expecting it, and I was shocked and so surprised by such a sweet thing,”Meggs mentioned the gift bag and the flowers. “Before, I never thought of what widows are doing on Valentine’s Day, but it’s just in Ashley to think of others all the time. It’s just who she is.”
Manning raised $22,000 and oversaw 300 volunteers, who combined over 13,000 stems into floral arrangements for 400 widows.
Manning said that in addition to the flowers, the women received a gift bag containing wine, gift cards, and gifts donated by local businesses.
“It just kind of snowballed, but it’s a neat thing to see a good thing snowball,”Manning, who managed the effort while she was still recovering from a debilitating injury to her eye that left her with vision loss one eye, said this: “They say misery loves company, but I think happiness loves company, too.”
This year, Manning’s home was visited by several volunteers to assemble the gifts and baskets.
This year, Meggs’ mother and father-in-law died unexpectedly last year.
“She’ll be totally shocked, and I’m sure it’ll 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 why he made it so special for me throughout the years.”
Manning said that she is working on turning the Valentine’s Day Widow Project into an independent nonprofit organization in order to continue her work with women.
She stated that she has received many messages of thanks from women who have received flowers. She was overjoyed to see her family and friends make similar efforts, such as her sister, who sent Valentine’s Day flowers for widows at her gym.
“The most important thing that I’ve learned through this whole outreach is that when you feel that tug on your heart for whatever it is, because this world is full of things that are sad and hard and there are people that are aching every day, when you feel that nudge, actually listen to it,”Manning said. “Whether it’s widows or widowers or if it’s military spouses, or whatever it is that tugs at your heart, you just listen to it and act on it, and the reward is far greater.”
“The joy that giving gives your heart is just incredible,”She spoke.
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