par·ent/ˈperənt : be or act as a mother or father to (someone).
MEET MAGGIE. SHE IS BEAUTY REVIVED WITH ERIN BARKEL PHOTOGRAPHY.
At only 11-years old, Maggie grows far more than the beautiful flowers in her garden. She grows hope. She grows love. She grows joy.
The seeds of Maggie’s Flowers were planted when Maggie, just 5 years-old, was looking to raise funds to go hang gliding while on family vacation in North Carolina. After brainstorming different ideas and following her passion for flowers, Maggie decided to sell bouquets of flowers from a small roadside cart made by her grandfather in her front yard. Having planted the seeds, tended to her garden and eventually harvested the beautiful cosmos and zinnias into bouquets, Maggie was able to see them $1 each. Much to her family’s surprise, Maggie doubled her $100 goal allowing, her dad to share in the hang gliding experience.
Maggie’s Flowers didn’t end there. After learning that people in our community go without a Christmas each year, Maggie decided to keep selling her flowers -This time to help those less fortunate. Through hard work and many early mornings, Maggie has been able to buy gifts along with “adopting a family,” in which she provides a Christmas dinner in addition to supplying them a few of their needs and wants.
Six-years later, the operation is now a family affair. Her parents, Chris and Jil Hartman, her younger brother Gerrit and some friends, called the garden fairies, help her plant the garden each spring. Her bouquets of dahlias (Maggie’s personal favorite), zinnia, cosmos, sunflowers and sometimes wild flowers are sold until the October when Maggie turns her focus toward stretching the earnings in order to help as many as possible.
It’s amazing how the purchase of a single small bouquet can bring great joy. Joy to those who purchased it, joy the people who receive the Christmas gifts and joy to Maggie whose flowers allow her to do what she loves while filling a need that many do not know exists.
In fact, each year as Maggie herself has grown so has the impact of Maggie’s Flowers. During 2011, Maggie was able to raise $476 enabling her to purchase 30 gifts for kids in need and adopting a family in need. The following year, 2012 enabled Maggie to raise $1137 which she used to start a Maggie’s Flowers tradition: a Christmas closet where parents could come and choose gifts for their children and have them wrapped. More than 60 children received gifts from the Christmas closet in 2012 and a single mom to 5 children was provided with clothing, food and household items. Success followed in 2013 when Maggie raised $1832 providing 60 presents for the Christmas Closet and allowing 3 families to be adopted. With no signs of slowing down, 2014 brought a little over $2000 raised to buy Christmas presents for those in need a second roadside location, and many new opportunities including winning the local Kohl’s Kids Cares Scholarship. In 2015, Maggie surpassed her $2000 goal raising $2,620. She was able to provide more than 100 people a Christmas, including 19 boys living in a youth foster home, 12 residents of a local nursing home and 4 Christmas dinners for needy families. Maggie recalls one of her favorite moments: watching one of the boys overcome with emotion and unable to open his present because he had never before received a gift. Her generosity doesn’t end there as she was once again able to support the Christmas closet and provide 86 children Christmas presents.
Maggie’s Flowers and its ministry has become an integral part of who Maggie is and what her family does. When the family was looking to purchase a new home last year, a large garden area for Maggie was at the top of their house hunting list. Even now, with the daunting task of completely renovating their 116 year old farmhouse, lovingly called Elnora, Maggie and her family has hopes to continue to grow Maggie’s Flowers. This year she has expanded to 3 roadside stands dotted through the community and a space in a local popular boutique. She also has been able to particulate in various markets throughout the summer months. Maggie’s goal has been raised to $4,000 this year allowing her to keep up the demand for gifts at the expanding youth foster home, the nursing home, the adoption of several families, as well as maintaining the Christmas closet. As of this writing she is almost half way there.
I am honored to know Maggie and to watch her beautiful heart take a something as small as a seed, grow it into a bouquet that then transforms into the gift of hope, the gift of love and the gift of joy that then spreads like wildflowers around our community.
See the article for images.