WOODLAND — It was a gloomy October afternoon in Woodland, but Benno Dobbe knew one way to brighten up people’s day — flowers.
Dobbe is the owner of Woodland’s Holland America Flower Gardens, which was one of the florists participating in Petal It Forward on Wednesday. During the annual, nationwide campaign, florists head to the streets to hand out bouquets of flowers, one to keep and one to give to someone else. The event, sponsored by the Society of American Florists, started in 2015 and now has more than 450 participants around the country.
“It’s a good movement,” Dobbe said. “We found that people are happier when they get flowers. They feel good about themselves.”
Holland America handed out flowers at two locations in Woodland: Red Leaf Coffee and Burgerville. Tim Zoltz, manager of the Woodland Burgerville, said Dobbe has been handing out flowers outside his restaurant every year of Petal It Forward.
“Everyone comes in and leaves happy,” he said. “When you’re not expecting flowers, that’s when they’re really nice.”
Dobbe said it was also important to get out in the community to let people know these were fresh, local flowers grown in America.
Holland America’s bouquets for the event were made up of lilies and sunflowers. Dobbe said they handed out 1,000 bouquets in Woodland and sent out about 50,000 bouquets for people to use elsewhere around the country.
“We’ve been involved ever year, and it keeps growing,” he said. “We’re giving away flowers like hot cakes.”
Dobbe handed out bouquets along with his wife, Klazina, and a few Holland employees, including Nicolette Dobbe, their daughter and a salesperson for the business; Karin Chase, another salesperson; and Ayla Findlay, a gift stop manager.
This was Findlay’s first year participating in the event, she said, and she spent part of her day chasing down people in the Burgerville parking lot. Some people stopped and accepted the flowers, while others didn’t even roll down their window after leaving the drive-thru.
When she approached a woman going back to her car, the woman accepted the flowers and said she was going to stop at her neighbor’s house on the way home. Findlay also approached a group of men on their lunch break and asked if they wanted flowers, and they said they were in class all day. However, one took a bouquet to give to the teacher.
“The point of flowers is to bring people joy,” she said.
Findlay encountered some confused faces outside of Burgerville — a few people thought she was trying to sell them flowers. Once people learned they were free, however, most were happy to accept the bouquets.
“Everybody is shocked,” she said. “It’s hard to get something for free. People wanting to spread goodwill is hard to come by these days.”