Giving V-Day flowers a new lease of life with COVID-19 frontliners

Refresh Flowers took time out to repurpose donated flowers into bouquets for Tan Tock Seng Hospital frontline workers.

Nigel Chin
Nigel Chin

Published: 18 February 2020, 11:27 AM

Every year, bouquets of flowers bought on Valentine’s Day are usually carried around for one day, before they are left to wither and die.

This time, however, the flowers were given a second lease of life before the inevitable happens, thanks to an initiative by ground-up movement Refresh Flowers SG and its team of volunteers, supported by the National Youth Council.

For four hours on Saturday (15 Feb), Refresh Flowers were at The Red Box Somerset to collect flowers from the public and repurpose them into bouquets for the busy frontline staff at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The team of volunteers and Refresh Flowers founder, Livia Chng (front, right) spent about four hours repurposing the flowers.

While Refresh Flowers’ founder, Livia Chng, had not set expectations, the team eventually received enough flowers to create 175 bouquets for healthcare workers from TTSH. The bouquets were handed off to representatives from TTSH at about 2:15pm on Saturday at the hospital itself.

Each bouquet was created from scratch by the members from Refresh Flowers. They also had to trim the flowers and disinfect each stalk.

Each stalk of flower was sanitised first before it was repurposed into a bouquet.
The team was full of smiles as they worked on the flowers.

While the initiative required the team to take time out of their weekend, not one of them minded at all. They may not have said it, and while they were wearing surgical masks throughout as they worked on the bouquets, anyone could tell that the team were all full of smiles as they worked on each bouquet of flower, given the tiny wrinkles that appeared at the corners of their eyes.

The bouquets were also tagged with handwritten notes penned down by members of the public who came down to drop off their flowers, or by the Refresh Flowers volunteers, off notes that were written and posted online under the #Braveheartsg movement.

Each bouquet of flowers was tagged with a handwritten note.

“Thank you for helping Singapore fight against the COVID-19,” read one note.

Another, written by Tan Yan Tao, read: “To the brave warriors! Stay strong and thank you for keeping us safe.” The 30-year-old had dropped off 20 bundles of flowers from his company, AP Floral, a flowers wholesaler.

“We had some leftover flowers from Valentine’s Day, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring it down for them (Refresh Flowers) to reuse. It’s a good initiative,” said Yan Tao. When asked why he called the medical staff “brave warriors”, he replied: “It’s a very thankless job and they are going through a lot. As someone who is in the service line, I can only understand how tough it can be for them during such a hectic period.”

The flowers were donated by members of the public who wanted to show encouragement to healthcare workers.

Another man, who wanted to be known as YH, said that he and his wife heard about the initiative from his father-in-law on Friday and decided to search more about it. The 30-year-old said that both of them decided to donate it for this initiative as every year, the flowers will wither and they will throw it out.

“I just want to show the healthcare workers some encouragement,” he said. “They need it now more than ever.”

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