BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Late Friday, Cheri Pertesis and Hilary Boothby of Anything Floral, decided it was time to temporarily shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic after more restrictions were put into place by the federal and state governments and fresh flower imports began to dwindle. With a refrigerator full of perishable product, the two put their minds together and set out to cheer up the community by asking customers to ‘’Sponsor A Smile.’’
“Our goal was to find sponsors so that we could create and deliver bouquets so that we could lift spirits while simultaneously clearing out our perishable product,” explained Pertesis. The pair shared a post to the business’ Facebook page and shared it on the Berkeley Heights Community Forum on Friday night calling on members of the community to ‘’Sponsor A Smile.’’ Response from the community started pouring in immediately. Some requested that their ‘’smiles’’ be sent to specific people in need of a pick-me-up and others just wanted to simply spread kindness.
Recipients of the flowers, candies and balloons included Berkeley Heights first responders, Autumn Lake Healthcare staff and residents, nurses, doctors, moms, neighbors, families in need of a pick-me-up, community volunteers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, quarantine-mates and birthday celebrants.
Anything Floral’s most recent Facebook post read, “your 'Sponsor a Smile' donations carried us through one of our darkest days. With the help of the community (and even one call from out of state!) we sold all of our fresh flowers and perishable candy all in one day.”
“We have felt the support of our community before but never have we felt it more than we did today,” said Boothby. Pertesis added, “in 26 years, we have not intentionally let our refrigerators go silent, it’s surreal. The positivism, encouragement, hope and strength that our community shared with us today, as they rallied around us, will forever mean more to us than they will ever know. It filled our souls when we needed it the most.”