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YARDLEY BOROUGH >> On Wednesday, October 21 Ye Olde Yardley Florist is joining almost 500 floral businesses nationwide to surprise unsuspecting passersby in Yardley with two free roses each — one to keep and one to give.

The random-acts-of-kindness effort — called Petal It Forward and organized by the Society of American Florists (SAF), of which Ye Olde Yardley Florist is a member — is designed to give people more smiles and less stress.

The effort illustrates research from the University of North Florida (UNF) that shows living with flowers reduces stress. Given the isolation brought on by COVID-19, Petal It Forward is needed more than ever.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a tracking poll in July 2020, showing that most American adults — 53 percent — believe that the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health. Science has proven that flowers reduce stress and anxiety and make people happy.

“Petal It Forward is the floral industry’s way of giving back,” said Jenny Scala, SAF’s director of marketing and communications, citing the effort was purposefully planned for a Wednesday to help the mid-week slump.

Noreen Gorka of Ye Olde Yardley Florist has been a part of the mood-boosting effort from the beginning to spread joy and make a difference in the community. “It’s my absolute favorite day of the year! This will be our sixth year, and it is amazing the reaction we get. We get tons of smiles, gratitude, and even hugs and tears,” said Noreen Gorka. “Through the positive effects of flowers, we hope to make someone’s day brighter and provide a much-needed moment of joy amidst the craziness going on in the world,” she added.

The research findings on flowers and stress relief, and the need for mood-boosting gestures, seem timely: A survey by Wakefield Research showed that pre-COVID 68 percent of Americans experienced stress weekly, and 32 percent reported feeling stressed daily. Women are even more affected, with 25 percent reporting feeling stress multiple times a day.

Gorka says the original idea behind Petal It Forward’s ‘keep one, share one’ concept, which started in 2015, came after looking at statistics that showed while 80 percent of people reported receiving flowers makes them happy. Even more, 88 percent said that giving flowers makes them happy. “We want to give people the chance to experience both,” said Noreen Gorka. “Just one blossom has the power to change someone’s day and make them smile every time they look at it for the whole week, or hopefully two!”

So Wednesday, keep your eyes open for happy people bearing roses, including Gorka, Yardley Borough Police, David Appelbaum of Experience Yardley, as well as various other businesses and business people throughout Yardley.

In addition to the research on stress, previous behavioral studies conducted by Rutgers and Harvard scientifically demonstrate the positive impact flowers have on emotional well-being.

For information on the effects of flowers on stress research, visit www.aboutflowers.com/stressless. For research on all of the health benefits of flowers, visit www.aboutflowers.com/research.

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