This is final year for Daffodil Days Cancer Society decides to end fundraiser
BY CINDY STAUFFER, Staff Writer
Say goodbye to Daffodil Days.
This will be the final year for the American Cancer Society fundraiser, a rite of spring for many residents for 40 years.
While successful locally -- raising about $200,000 a year in the recent past -- the event was not held in other parts of the country and was a labor-intensive effort.
Volunteers and staff with the national Cancer Society office decided the organization should focus its efforts on other fundraisers, including Relay for Life, a local official said.
"In these economic times, it's critical we focus on activities that make the most impact," said Courtney Shaffer, with the Lancaster Unit of the American Cancer Society.
Local volunteers were crestfallen to hear the news of the fundraiser's demise, but said they understand that sometimes changes must be made.
Barbara Valavanes has been selling daffodils during the event's entire 40-year run, recruiting the help of the Daughters of Penelope at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, where she attends. She's helped to raise $65,000 for the Cancer Society over the years.
"I feel sad," said Valavanes, who is 88 and lost her only son, James, to cancer when he was 21. "It's one way many people can be involved and feel good about doing something toward the fight against cancer.
"But if it is not the way to go, then I wish them success in the way they choose to go."
For 16 years, Bert Stoltzfus has been selling daffodils for the event to her neighbors in Lancaster and fellow church members at Grace United Methodist Church in Millersville. She's raised more than $30,000 for the Cancer Society.
"I can't believe it," Stoltzfus said of the decision to end the fundraiser, but added, "I guess you have to move to better things."
The event signaled spring for many people, who regularly bought the bright yellow flowers from co-workers or friends. Volunteers also sold daffodils at almost 20 businesses across the community during the event.
"It just brightened up your day," said Jessica Kistler, activities director at United Zion Retirement Community in Lititz, where residents and staff bought flowers. "When you see daffodils in the middle of March, you know spring is coming and you know you're helping to support a good cause."
Last year, the American Cancer Society here sold 140,000 cut daffodils, 1,400 stuffed bears with daffodils, and 3,100 potted daffodils, Shaffer said.
The society is asking Daffodil Days volunteers to shift their efforts to Relay for Life, which holds several events here, or Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a 5-kilometer walk held in Harrisburg.
Volunteers also may help at the local unit's Good Drive office, drive patients to treatment or do other tasks, Shaffer said.
"We want to keep people engaged," she said.
The final Daffodil Days fundraiser will be held March 18 through March 24.
Kistler said it will be the end of an era.
"When I was a kid, I remember seeing the daffodils around," she said, "and asking about it and hearing, 'Oh, it's for the American Cancer Society.' "