Across the country, florists who are gearing up to participate in the Society of American Florist's Petal It Forward are reaching out to members of their communities to team up for the Oct. 19 flower giveaway. It's an example of how the initiative not only showcases the power and joy of flowers but also generates community goodwill and forges relationships with important members of the community.

On Oct. 19, participants will give away two bouquets (or single flowers) — one for the recipient to keep and one to gift to someone else. There is still plenty of time to be part of the event, which is easy to execute and fully customizable– there is no cost to register, and businesses can host an event of any size or scale.

The first step is registering your business for free. You don't have to be an SAF member to participate! SAF is pushing to get floral businesses from every state to take part and amplify the message of the joy of giving and receiving flowers. SAF has Petal It Forward resources and instructions for hosting an event here.

By leveraging community partnerships, florists not only have assistance making bouquets and handing them out in their communities, but they can also create a network crucial to building a strong brand. Each partnership is unique, with florists finding ways to support other local businesses, organizations, and even healthcare providers.

"It is truly a highlight of our year," says Valerie Lee, who co-owns J. Miller Flowers and Gifts in Oakland, California, with her sister Robbin Lee. "We love the community involvement and spirit of the event. It seems we need this type of outreach more than ever this year. We can engage with our community, family and friends, staff at the flower shop, growers, media, and neighborhood."

Here are some ideas for leveraging community partnerships for the event: 

Distribution points
While some choose giveaway locations that are at the heart of their communities, many florists recommend also reaching out to community partners to arrange distribution points. Some, including Carrie Moore of Jenny's Floral in Custer, South Dakota, have sought out first responders to help pass out flowers. "They love it just as much as we do," Moore says.

The Lee sisters also call their local police station and arrange to bring bouquets and distribute flowers at the children's hospital. Through a contact on-site, they make plans to drop off bouquets in the hospital lobby that will be distributed to families.

Studley Flower Gardens in Rochester, New Hampshire, also provides bouquets to a local healthcare provider. "Their clinicians will bring the bouquets as they visit patients throughout the day," says Studley's Molly Meulenbroek. "Both patients and the nursing staff will be able to enjoy the flower bouquets."

Other ways the community can help
Leveraging partnerships isn't only about the day-of events. Florists also seek community volunteer partners to help with the preparations.

This can take many forms, from getting local public relations to volunteer to help contact the media, as George's Flowers does in Roanoke, Virginia, to finding amateur designers to assemble bouquets.

The day before Petal it Forward is assembly day at J. Miller Flowers and Gifts, Lee says. Her staff preps the stems, but her friends help create the bouquets. With a sample on hand, Lee makes it a fun event, providing lunch and a festive environment to put three stems together with some greenery and a ribbon. "It's a social event," she says. "We all have a good time."

For more information: