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Volunteers prepare gift of carnations for St. Patrick's Day

A group in Lackawanna County continued a long-time St. Patrick's Day tradition on Monday.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Green-clad volunteers filled the tables inside the Goodwill Center in Scranton. The assembling of green carnations is an annual tradition for members of the Shamrock Heart Foundation of Lackawanna County.

Over the course of two days, volunteers work in shifts to make roughly 4,400 festive floral arrangements to distribute to people in hospitals and nursing homes in Lackawanna County.

"I think it really means a lot. I don't think I'd be coming back every year if it didn't," said volunteer Judy Reese. "I have a cousin in a nursing home, so I know she'll appreciate it."

"There are new volunteers that weren't here two years ago. The last few years they've been coming, and it builds by word of mouth. It gets around and people come and they come back every year," Jerry Gilpatrick said.

Many of the volunteers who come and put together the arrangements have been doing it for decades and say it's always great to come back and get together.

Shirlene Hanis and some of her former coworkers have been volunteering to make the arrangements for about 20 years. After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the ladies were back at it assembling as many as they could.

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"It gets easier as you go along. Your fingers get green and sticky. I'll add a little more tape on this one, but it just gets easier," Hanis said.

Volunteers say hearing stories from people who have received flowers in the past is why they come back every year.

"Years later, she still brings it up, every St. Patrick's Day. I can't forget about that. That was so nice, and it really made her feel good that people do have that feeling and it stays with them," Gilpatrick said.

The carnations will be distributed to area hospitals and nursing homes on Thursday.

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