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‘The holidays can be really hard:’ Illinois florist plays Santa, gifts bouquets to 200 nursing home residents

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SAVANNA, Ill. -- An Illinois florist brightened the holidays for hundreds of nursing home residents by gifting them Christmas bouquets.

Sam Ritchie owns River Valley Designs and often gifts flowers through her "Feel Good Friday" initiative.

On Thursday, Dec. 19 and Friday, Dec. 20, she made sure every person living in a nursing home or assisted care facility in the cities of Savanna, Illinois and Mount Carroll, Illinois got a special bouquet.

In total, she gifted flowers to more than 250 people.

"The holidays can be really hard for some of these people who are living here," said Ritchie. "I feel that the community has given so much to me, and been so supportive of my business, that it's only fair that I return the favor, and this is one thing that I absolutely love to do."

Ritchie hosts "Feel Good Friday" at about half a dozen nursing homes all year long. However, because there aren't always enough flowers for everyone, the bouquets are typically given out randomly.

During the Christmas season, Ritchie's customers make sure there are enough flowers for everyone living in a nursing home.

"For Christmas, we open it up and we say, you know, we have 200 people that we need bouquets for and the community steps up," said Ritchie.

She said customers sponsor the bouquets by paying $10.

Stan Sclenuning, assistant administrator at Big Meadows Care Center said the flowers bring smiles and have a major impact on residents.

"A lot of times, when we get older, we lose our hearing and sight, but one thing we don't lose is the sense of smell," said Sclenuning. "They might not be able to visualize them as much, but the smell is what they really enjoy."

Sclenuning and the residents were thankful for a thoughtful small business owner on a "Santa-like mission," giving simple yet thoughtful gifts.

"Someday this could be me, and I would hope that someone would maybe be thinking of me, too," said Ritchie.

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