Spring in New England is a hard-won event. Snow lingers through April, chilly winds blast in May, and the Red Sox … well, maybe next year.
But each year, for the cost of lunch in Harvard Square, Daffodil Days brings an early spring to the offices and laboratories of University employees and helps find a cure for cancer.
One of the largest fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Daffodil Days kicks off its annual sale of $6 bouquets of daffodils this month, led by the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs (OGCPA) and managed by 96 coordinators throughout the University. Tomorrow (Feb. 22) is the last day to order the bunches of 10 flowers, which will be delivered Monday, March 18.
“It’s a way to raise money for the charity, but it’s also exciting when the daffodils arrive in the middle of March,” said OGCPA staff assistant Holly Casserly, who helms the program for the first time this year, taking the reins from OGCPA’s soon-to-be-retired department administrator Carole Lee.
Now in its 15th year at Harvard, Daffodil Days began in 1988 under the leadership of Rita Corkery, former associate director of community relations and a breast cancer survivor, and grew under Lee’s direction. Sales bloomed from the first-year total of $2,500 to last year’s $34,000, which made Harvard the top single-seller site in New England.
In addition to brightening their own workspaces, members of the Harvard community can donate daffodils to local hospitals; last year Harvard employees sent nearly 130 bouquets each to Mt. Auburn, Youville, and Cambridge Hospitals and Sancta Maria Nursing Facility, all in Cambridge. “That’s the generosity of the Harvard staff,” said Lee, who is assisting Casserly during this transition year.
The fundraiser received a boost in 1999, when University Mail Services took over the distribution of the thousands of bouquets, relieving Lee and her friends, family, and volunteers of a daylong journey through Cambridge and Boston in flower-stuffed Harvard buses.
Mail Services drivers and clerks distribute flowers on their regular mail routes. While it’s an extra load for one day, Ursula Moore, manager of mail services, said that handing out the flowers brings her staff joy. “All the people do it in honor of somebody they know,” she said, adding that there’s no one whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer.Daffodil Days is a community effort, and Casserly praised the contributions of the area coordinators and the energy of regular top-sellers, like the Law School, the School of Public Health, and Peter Conlin of Alumni Affairs and Development.
“The secret to my success?” said Conlin. “It’s a mixture of the noble cause and noble associates and colleagues who rise to the occasion and want to help.”