Matt Rohe handed two baskets full of roses to Larry Vodenik from the back of a Hy-Vee catering van. The baskets, full of red, pink, purple and yellow roses, were then placed in a Hy-Vee shopping cart.


Rohe and Vodenik wheeled the shopping cart full of roses into the Spring Valley campus of Perry Lutheran Homes on Monday, July 23.


“This was a wonderful idea,” said Marketing Coordinator Maureen Haglund.


Store Manager Rohe said the idea came from another Hy-Vee store during Hy-Vee’s annual Million Stem Rose Sale in July of last year.


Rohe filed the idea away to use during this year’s Million Stem Rose Sale. Customers were asked at the register to donate a $1 for a rose to be delivered to Perry elders.


Rohe and Vodenik delivered around 400 roses to the Perry Lutheran Homes main campus and 200 to the Spring Valley campus on July 23. More roses were set to be delivered to Pearl Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center and Rowley Masonic Community.


“I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really know how cool it was until I saw the response. We have right at around 1,000 roses donated,” Rohe said.


The response, he added, was much larger than expected for the first year of the rose donation program.


“The response has just been crazy. We put it on our Facebook page and it’s been the most viral thing we’ve ever done. Everyone was sharing it and liking it,” Rohe said of a post on the Hy-Vee (Perry, IA) Facebook page.


Local residents enjoyed receiving the donated roses.


“Oh my goodness, that’s wonderful,” said Wilmoth Nichols, Spring Valley resident, as Rohe handed her a bouquet.


The residents weren’t the only ones admiring the roses.


“Thank you so much. I think it’s just a really cool idea you guys had,” said Deb Koelln, Perry Lutheran Home Chief Care Officer. “Way to spread the love around.”


Rohe added that the roses all came from local Hy-Vee customers. He plans to bring the program back next year.


“Obviously I think our customers have enjoyed giving. I hope everyone can see the smiles it’s bringing to places. That’s the point of it,” Rohe said.