Most people throw away tons of flowers after their wedding. She puts them back to work.

Why let good flowers go to waste? She made it her mission to recycle discarded wedding flowers, and the result is beautiful.

Shawn Chamberlain was tending the gardens at a hospice care facility one day when she noticed something unusual about one of the patients.

The woman, standing on a nearby patio, caught her off guard. Most of the patients Shawn had seen at the facility were older; hospice care is typically for those who are given six months or less to live, after all.

But this patient was young — a young mother.


A young mother herself, Shawn felt compelled to do something for the woman. Looking down and seeing the flowers in the garden, she quickly clipped a few and had a charge nurse deliver them to the patient.

Gathering up some love. Image via Rogue Heart Media.

In addition to being beautiful, flowers may actually lift people's moods.

According to a 2005 research study at Rutgers University, every single person who received flowers as part of an experiment had a positive response. Every. Single. Person.

Admit it: Flowers make you feel loved, special, adored, and remembered. Image via Shawn Chamberlain.

As a landscape designer, Shawn had seen the power of flowers to bring people delight. In that moment, she knew she wanted to bring flowery happiness to other people. But not just anyone: long-term care patients, people who could really use a few moments of unexpected joy.

There was only one problem — where on Earth could she obtain a massive amount of flowers without going completely broke in the process?

If you've ever had to buy flowers for any event, you know they're, uh, not cheap. Shawn was a young mom of five kids — not a millionaire by any stretch.

But then it came to her: weddings.

Wedding flowers — gorgeous, expensive, and only used for one day. Image via Shawn Chamberlain.

Weddings are a treasure trove of floral arrangements, bouquets, and other lovely things ... that often go straight in the trash once the event is over.

Shawn started making calls around town to wedding planners, event spaces, florists, anyone who dealt in bulk flowers. Amazingly, there was no hesitation; people were on board. The Full Bloom was born.

Flowers. Flowers everywhere! Image via Shawn Chamberlain.

Brides and grooms really took to the idea, thrilled that they could use their time of joy and happiness to give back. (All without a lot of effort because, as we know, weddings are super stressful!)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something recycled! Image via Shawn Chamberlain.

Another cool thing? Through postings to The Full Bloom's Facebook page, donors can be connected with the receivers.

As Shawn put it, "They can see their flowers (through posting) actually go somewhere."

Brides, grooms, and other donors get to see how their contribution has brightened someone's day. And patients know someone was thinking of them and that, for a moment, they're feeling a little better because, you know, science.

Volunteers of all ages get involved and deliver arrangements to long-term care facilities. Image via Shawn Chamberlain.

To find out more about The Full Bloom and recycling the love, check out this video from Rogue Heart Media.

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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