The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 23, 2014

Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year.

Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

The organization provided bulbs for Joplin residents as a result of the 2011 tornado. Then in June 2013, the organization sent bulbs to Joplin again, asking that Joplin preserve them for distribution to Oklahoma cities that were struck by devastating storms when those cities were ready to accept them.

That time has come, said Richard McDonough, president and chief executive officer of America Responds With Love.

“By planting these flower bulbs, we are focused on the future and how the communities will be building back during the upcoming months,” McDonough said in a statement issued by the city of Joplin.

“The citizens of Joplin and the area have shown their support for Oklahoma’s recovery by giving these bulbs a chance to bloom in Joplin. We encourage the area residents that planted these flower bulbs last year to dig them up and bring them back to the Joplin Parks Department so that we can offer them to Oklahoma citizens to plant in their communities and brighten their future with beautiful flowers. It truly is a great symbol of hope moving from one community to another.”

Morang is one of about 150 Joplin residents who became “foster gardeners” by planting the bulbs with the intention of digging them up this year to be sent on to Oklahoma.

“I think it’s a really innovative idea they had to foster the bulbs out and then pass them on for somebody else to enjoy,” Morang said Wednesday. “I was glad to be a part of it.”

She planted a variety that included dahlias, day lilies, canna lilies and potatoes (for their brightly colored vines). “So I had a beautiful front flower bed last summer,” she said.

Morang is not unhappy about having to dig them up. “That was the plan all along, and I’m just glad somebody else is going to get to enjoy them,” she said.

Volunteers with the RSVP program at the Area Agency on Aging are making calls to the list of bulb recipients registered with the city of Joplin to remind them that it’s time to dig up the bulbs and return them to the Joplin parks office at 3010 W. First St., McDonough said.

“What we’re asking is either bring them in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes or black horticulture trays,” McDonough said. “The primary thing is to be able to get air circulating around the dirt and the bulbs so they don’t heat up.”

If the bulbs are already growing this season, people should leave a scoop of soil on them when lifting them from the ground and also leave any green tops or growth on them, he said.

The bulbs are to be returned to the parks office from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays through Thursday, May 1. They will be picked up for transport to Oklahoma on Friday, May 2.

They will be picked up by a truck from an Oklahoma industry, Teemco, for delivery to 13 Oklahoma towns, including Moore, El Reno and Shawnee, McDonough said.

Sam Anselm, the city’s interim city manger, said: “Joplin received so much support with volunteers and donations following the disaster. This was one way our residents could help pay it forward, plus we benefited from the beautiful flowers that bloomed here this past summer.”

100,000 bulbs

JOPLIN RECEIVED 100,000 bulbs that are to be passed on to other storm-stricken cities.

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