Community rallies around Bellevue florist after OPS graduation canceled

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 12:53 PM CDT
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - The Purple Orchid Flower shop in Bellevue is busy this week — the shop’s owner, Rachael Sjn, has a bunch of orders to get to.

“Just a pile of stuff I’ve got to get done today. So, overwhelming support,” Sjn said.

Her laughing and joyful attitude are a complete 180 from what it was just two days ago.

“Our worst nightmare had come true,” she said.

For three and a half years, she has owned the shop, eventually becoming a vendor at Baxter Arena.

“A little over two weeks ago, they had emailed me to say, ‘Hey, graduations are back on,” Sjn said. “ ‘We’d love to have you selling your flowers. Here we go. Here’s the schedule.‘ ”

So she ordered the flowers for the 2020 graduates. A lot of flowers — $10,000 worth.

Then the bottom dropped out.

“OPS announced on Monday, that all summer activities were canceled,” Sjn said.

That included graduation, leaving her wondering: “Okay — how am I going to sell all of these flowers?”

She posted on Facebook to ask whether anyone needed flowers. The post read:

“My worse nightmare has come true. We spent 10K in fresh flowers for Graduations that were to be held at Baxter Arena For Omaha Public Schools that was to happen 8/2- though 8-5-2020 they canceled 7-27-2020 Flowers arrive 7-28-2020. Please help us recoup our cost. These will be designer choice hand tied bouquets that means no vase. We are a small business and to loss this much money will terrible. Please help us spread cheer with flowers. Send happiness to some one that needs cheering up, and make this florist do a happy dance.”

The response that she got — in just two days — was overwhelming.

“Now, I’m having people from all over, messaging me: ‘How can I help? I don’t know anyone there, but I want to help you out,‘ ” Sjn said.

It’s not just people buying flowers for themselves; local businesses are also stepping in.

Ana Funkhouser owns a salon in La Vista. She’s one of the thousands who saw Sjn’s post and decided to act.

“I love flowers, for one; and support local — let’s do it!” Funkhouser said.

In her mind, and in so many others, the best thing we can all do during a global pandemic is to help our neighbor, she said.

“We’re just doing what we love to do and just hope that this whole — everything — can just get over sometime soon,” Funkhouser said. “So any little bit that we can just do to help and support each other and build each other up is what we need to do right now.”

How to help

There will be a mobile flower shop set up outside of Sjn’s store on Friday and also next week for people to stop by, socially distance, and purchase flowers.

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