A North Carolina woman with big dreams and a bigger heart is making strides to show recollected love to those who’ve lost their forever valentine.
Ashley Manning, a Charlotte-based mom, along with a team of volunteers, will deliver flower and gift bags to hundreds of widows across the city this Valentine’s Day, setting a goal of reaching 800 people.
Manning, a pharmaceutical sales rep turned stay-at-home mom, is founder of the Valentine’s Day Widow Outreach Project, a non-profit organization she said she created in 2021 “to show love to those who are hurting.”
According to her Instagram, Manning started the project shortly after she turned her flower-arranging hobby into a business in 2020.
V-Day PSA:Don’t reserve celebrations of love to just Valentine’s Day if you want a healthier heart, expert says
Valentine’s Day is a time for engagements:Where are Americans tying the knot?
When she started Pretty Things by A.E. Manning, she had previously made Valentine’s Day bouquets for her children’s’ teachers and family friends going through rough times, the mother of four told Good Morning America.
“I thought, I have a platform now to maybe involve more people,” she told the outlet.
How it started
In 2021, Manning shared her idea on Instagram about giving flowers to women who wouldn’t be receiving any on Valentine’s Day from their late partner or spouse.
Soon after, Manning said she received hundreds of dollars in donations and the names of dozens of women who had been nominated by others.
In addition to flowers, Manning said, she decided to also give wine, gifts and gift cards from local businesses who donated their goods.
Because of Manning’s efforts, on Feb. 14, 2021, 121 women and two men opened their doors to surprise floral arrangements and a gift bag.
Last Valentine’s Day, Manning’s initial goal was to serve175 widows, but because she raised more than $22,000 she was able to oversee 300 volunteers deliver arrangements to 400 widows.
In addition to receiving countless messages of thanks from widows, Manning said she has been elated to see others participate in a similar effort, including her sister who gave Valentine’s Day flowers to widows at her gym.
Goal for 2023: Serve 800 widows
On her webpage, Manning said she set sights high for 2023 with a goal to serve 800 widows in Charlotte. She is also working to expand and reach more women.
“I dream that one day we can be represented in every state,” Manning said.
“Showing love and compassion to our neighbors can change someone’s life, she continued. “Thinking about others first, giving your time or your treasure or your talent, can make an impact far greater than you can see. I hope this project inspires you to listen to that little voice when it calls.”
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
Story Credit: usatoday.com