Young garden club members dig getting involved

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | Members of the junior garden club working with Carol Russell to create Valentine’s Day floral arrangements for Meals on Wheels recipients. Front Row: Lily Brigham, Lily Potter Elsie Mae Brigham, Aisley Davidson, Alice Potter. Back row, from left: Natalie Fernandez, Mrs. Russell (Youth Chair), Maeve Purcell, Natalie Mamisashvili, Juliana Medina, Ryan Sanwald, Johanna Kaasik, William Marshall. Missing from photo are Saddie Green Clark and Regina Weisenberg.

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | Front Row: Lily Brigham, Lily Potter Elsie Mae Brigham, Aisley Davidson, Alice Potter. Back row, from left: Natalie Fernandez, Mrs. Russell (Youth Chair), Maeve Purcell, Natalie Mamisashvili, Juliana Medina, Ryan Sanwald, Johanna Kaasik, William Marshall. Missing from photo are Saddie Green Clark and Regina Weisenberg.

It’s a small gesture, but one that can bring a huge lift to the spirits of homebound residents. Each year, in advance of Valentine’s Day, young members of the junior garden club get together after school to create floral arrangements for recipients of the Meals on Wheels program.

Under the auspices of the Garden Club of Shelter Island, Youth Chair Carol Russell and fellow members Yvonne Purcell, Eda Kaasik and Kim Porter meet every Tuesday with 15 youngsters ages 5 to 12 in the school cafeteria. They learn about and create stunning flower arrangements. On February 6, the students created this year’s Valentines arrangements using carnations, little boxwoods and baby’s breath. The arrangements were delivered the following day.

The junior Garden Club members and their leaders.

The junior Garden Club members and their leaders.

Junior members working with Mrs. Russell to create their Valentine-themed arrangements for homebound Island residents.

Junior members working with Mrs. Russell to create their Valentine-themed arrangements for homebound Island residents.

“It’s become a Valentine’s Day tradition to put together an arrangement,” explained Ms. Purcell in a recent interview at the Reporter. “We include a photo of each child and a Valentine’s wish for each recipient with the arrangement that is then given out through Meals on Wheels.

“Becky [Smith] of the Shelter Island Florist is a huge supporter of the junior garden club,” she added.

While making arrangements is one of the major junior garden club activities, it’s not just about the flowers for these budding designers. Ms. Purcell explains that the junior members also learn about nature, the environment, conservation, and wildlife.

“A couple weeks ago, we were going over the names of the winter birds,” said Ms. Purcell, who has a collection of bird photographs that she shares with the students. “You could see the birds out the window and hear them. It really sparked their interest.

“We’re keeping them busy and given them education,” she added. “I think the kids really like it. Here we are on this perfect island — it’s a perfect spot to get involved.”

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