LIVINGSTON, NJ — In memory of David Shomakia, a Livingston High School senior who died earlier this school year, Livingston resident Christy Sanborn and her daughter, Leena, have come up with a unique way to celebrate their neighbor’s life and bring comfort to his family.

Over the next week, from March 1 to March 8, residents and friends can visit a special tribute to Shomakia at the Livingston Memorial Oval, where Sanborn and her daughter have laid a special floral arrangement donated in Shomakia’s memory through an organization that designs heart-shaped arrangements for COVID-19 victims. The local memorial, which is now located just outside the 9/11 Memorial Garden at the Oval, coincides with nearly 100 grassroots events taking place across the country on March 1 as part of a National Day of Mourning through The Floral Heart Project to honor those lost to or suffering from COVID-19.

“I’ve had this aching feeling to do something for David ever since I heard of his passing,” said Sanborn. “I feel as though there hasn’t been closure, and I wanted to give David’s peers a chance to pay respect to his beautiful life. Whether they knew him or not...I hope that this heart will help us to celebrate his life and how much he gave to the world just by being David.”

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Sanborn described Shomakia as a “beautiful person” with a big heart who loved his family, his friends, his dog, Charlie. She also recalled his warm smile and his talent on the football field.

Over the last few months, Sanborn and her daughter have been spreading joy in the community by creating and delivering anonymous bouquets throughout the area. Although Shomakia’s death was not related to COVID-19, Sanborn felt a special floral arrangement would be a fitting tribute to her neighbor while also providing a way for Livingston residents to honor those affected by COVID-19.

With permission from Shomakia’s parents, Sanborn contacted The Floral Heart Project founder Kristina Libby and received confirmation that floral designer TJ McGrath (IG @tjmcrathdesign) would be able to custom-create and donate an arrangement in Shomakia’s name.

The memorial was set up on Monday, March 1, and will be available for viewing until March 8. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own flowers to be added to the memorial and/or take one of the 200 blooms that surround the memorial. 

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