Campus & Community

Daffodil Days brings early spring to Harvard:

3 min read

Fundraiser offers hope for a cancer-free world

photograph of daffodilsWith subzero temperatures and lingering snow, it’s hard to imagine surviving winter this year. But take heart. Long before spring arrives, hundreds of yellow bundles will be delivered to Harvard’s door, boosting spirits – and saving lives as well.

Daffodil Days, one of the largest annual fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, has kicked off on campus with the sale of daffodil bouquets. Faculty, staff, and students have until February 21 to purchase a $6 bundle of 10 daffodils from volunteer coordinators and contribute to the fight against cancer. The colorful previews-of-spring arrive in offices, dining halls, libraries, and labs the third week of March.

“When the bouquets are delivered, the bright yellow buds are tightly closed,” said Holly Casserly, staff assistant with the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs (OGCPA), the department responsible for coordinating sales on campus each year. “It is encouraging to Harvard employees to have the first sign of spring slowly bloom on their desks weeks before spring’s actual arrival.”

Harvard’s Daffodil Days campaign, now in its 16th year, is counted among the most successful in New England. It started under the leadership of Rita Corkery, former associate director of community relations and a breast cancer survivor, and has grown steadily since. Last year Harvard was the area’s top-selling educational institution with contributions totaling $33,600, bringing the University’s total contributions to date to more than $323,000. The American Cancer Society will recognize the area’s top sellers – Harvard, Fidelity Investments, and the U.S. Postal Service – later this month.

The campaign’s success is directly linked to Harvard’s strong sense of community. Hundreds of Harvard employees contribute to the effort, including OGCPA staff, who organize the event each year; 98 coordinators throughout the University, who add bouquet sales to their daily routines for a month; and the mail services staff, who in one day make a hundred deliveries to various areas on campus; and of course, those who buy the “gifts of hope.” Some purchase bunches of bouquets not only to brighten their offices but to donate to patients in local hospitals.

For Patti Gorman, who has been coordinating sales in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology for more than 10 years, it’s like a breath of spring air. “When you walk around the labs there is yellow everywhere; it is really refreshing,” said Gorman. But the event is more than just blooms, she added, it is a shared commitment: “Cancer affects everyone. This gives us an easy way to help make a difference.”

The proceeds from Daffodil Days help fund 32 Nobel Prize winning cancer researchers, nine of whom are affiliated with Harvard, and a number of patient services, including peer-to-peer support programs for breast cancer patients, transportation to and from treatment for cancer patients, and cancer prevention advocacy programs.