WAYNESBURG – “I went over there for something and Pauline Lint asked me if I wanted to help. The next thing I knew I was head over heels involved,” said Martha Tharp of Waynesburg, still grinning after all these years. “Let’s see, that was 1987 and I’ve been helping ever since.”
“Over there” was the Greene County office of the American Cancer Society. Lint was the part-time manager and Daffodil Days was what Tharp found herself in the thick of that spring. Tharp already was involved in her church, East Franklin Grange, Polly Wayne Garden Club, the Library Club and the hospital auxiliary.
She had spent a working lifetime managing everything from husband Ken’s Texaco station on First Street to the Ben Franklin Store on High Street. In short, Tharp was just the kind of market-savvy volunteer with a knack for organizing that those daffodils needed.
Greene County became part of the cancer society’s popular spring fundraiser in the early 1970s, when Harry and June Anderson of Waynesburg brought in the first boxes of daffodils and volunteers went door-to-door selling them, or stood in doorways offering them to passersby.
Tharp came up with a plan to do pre-orders throughout the county and it worked – fundraising dollars increased and later, Boyds Bears were added as a line of collectables. But in the beginning, it was just those boxes of sleepy stems that would emerge in a few short days as glorious blooms.
Tharp remembers how things were done back when it was all about coaxing those flowers to open.
“When they arrived, we’d put the boxes around town in every cooler we could find. Then when it was time to sell we’d get them out, trim the stems and put them in water. The next day they were ready and we sold them everywhere. We took them to the schools and the banks would buy them and give them out to customers.”
Over the years, pre-orders were the bulk of the sales and the selling sites narrowed down to big box stores where teams of volunteers manned the tables in shifts for three days, after the orders had been delivered.
This year, selling daffodils on High Street has come full circle and is back by popular demand. New volunteer Karen Taylor will be selling them at the courthouse and everyone is invited to stop by and take home the promise of spring after a long hard winter.
“Daffodil Days is a great way to share the hope that cancer can be beaten. It’s an amazing effort that our volunteers put out each year with these fundraising efforts,” community involvement specialist Nancy Verderber said.
Greene County’s fundraising muscle is a big reason why the ACS Western Region received an award for excellence in 2011.
ACS East Central Division is made up of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Its Western Region consists of 18 counties in Pennsylvania, from Erie to Greene and east to Westmoreland, Fayette and Indiana.
That fiscal year the region showed a 9.8 percent increase in income – the highest of all the regions in the Division. And of those, Greene County came in first with a hefty 35 percent increase from the year before.
Some might think that the influx of gas and oil companies to the area might have had something to do with those numbers, income development specialist Margie Smith noted. “Actually, almost all that money was raised through the commitment and determination of county residents to put an end to a disease that has taken so much from so many of their dear friends and family members.”
Daffodil Days will be in full bloom March 18-24. Volunteers deliver pre-orders on Wednesday and Thursday and volunteers will man tables Thursday through Saturday at Giant Eagle and Walmart in Waynesburg.
“We’re encouraging people to buy the pots of mini daffodils and plant them in a special place when they’re done blooming,” Verderber said. “When they come up again in the spring they will remind us that hope is renewed and each year brings us closer to the cure.”
Pre-orders can be placed through participating schools, businesses and organizations. Deadline is March 2. This year’s selection includes a bunch of 10 flowers for $10, a pot of live mini daffodils, $12, flowers in a vase, $15 and Bear and a Bunch for $25.
Bears and flowers can be donated anonymously to children in a hospital for treatment, nursing home residents and other human service facilities. Daffodil lollypops, yellow and chocolate, as well as Honor Cards are $1.
For more information, or to pre-order, call 724-222-6911 or 1-800-227-2345.