Retired florist prepares 800 roses for Meals on Wheels

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Meals on Wheels recipients got a special delivery of red roses Feb. 12 in honor of Valentine’s Day.

Gray resident Don Hutchings, retired owner of Meloon’s Florist, has purchased and packaged the roses for the Meals on Wheels participants every year since 1995. He worked in the floral business for 42 years before retiring.

“Funerals are sad and weddings are stressful. Buying and packaging close to 800 red roses is something I enjoy doing, knowing that I can help bring some joy to the people who get the roses in time for Valentine’s Day,” Hutchings said.

The roses are made possible by an endowment fund set up by the late Lorraine Merrill as part of her almost $1 million bequest to the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. Merrill started giving roses anonymously in 1995, and her bequest ensures that the tradition of delivering roses with Meals on Wheels to celebrate Valentine’s Day will live on for many years.

Meals on Wheels recipients are over 60 years old, primarily homebound or get out with difficulty unable to regularly prepare nutritious meals, lack consistent daytime help to prepare nutritious meals and able to accept meals during the delivery time frame. Meals on Wheels can be delivered indefinitely or on a short-term basis, such as after illness, injury or hospitalization. Research has shown a lower incidence of hospital readmission if older adults get Meals on Wheels post-hospitalization.

A donation of $3 is requested for each meal. Donations from participants average $1.20, far short of the cost of $6. Volunteers to deliver the meals and donations are always needed.

Don Hutchings, a retired florist who lives in Gray, has purchased and packaged close to 800 roses for Meals on Wheels participants every year since 1995.

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