Valley florist marks 9/11 with free roses and 'Pass It On' day

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- You've heard of "Pay it forward." One Valley florist is taking it a step further with "Pass It On Day."

Glendale florist Judy Haenel is marking the Sept. 11 anniversary by continuing her annual tradition of giving away thousands of free roses.

"This year is the 19th anniversary of Pass It On Day, and 13 years since 9/11 and the tragedy in New York City," says Haenel. "We now dedicate Pass It On Day to remembering the people and events of September 11, 2001, and have turned it into a celebration of being good neighbors and community members."

"We have also expanded the observance into honoring all first responders and military members - especially those who have given their lives serving the community and keeping us safe," she continues.

The yearly giveaway is part of a longstanding tradition observed in September by Haenel, her employees, and an army of volunteers, including folks who have assisted every year since the beginning.

"Pass It On Day is our way of putting the 'unity' back in community," says Haenel. "It gives us an opportunity to do something simple, positive, and one-on-one to lift people's spirits. You can perform random acts of kindness with roses."

Haenel, the owner of The Tulip Tree at 59th Avenue and Bell Road, estimates that by the end of the day, 4,000 flowers will have been distributed at no charge.

"We hope that people will come see us before they go to work or school, or as they're running their errands. You don't have to give your name, or tell us where the roses are going."

She continues, "We invite people 18 and older to come to the shop, and pick up a dozen roses apiece. Each person is asked to keep one rose, and pass along the other eleven to friends, neighbors, co-workers, or whoever they want to honor or thank with a beautiful flower. It's a no-strings-attached arrangement, and everybody's on the honor system. The roses are absolutely free, and are available upon request to any adult who comes into the shop until our supplies run out. We start early at 7:00 a.m. and the roses will be gone before lunch."

One mom who showed up for some free flowers says she will use them to teach her 5-year-old daughter and her kindergarten class about 9-11. "I told her the story on the way here," says Angie. "We're going to share these two dozen roses with all of the children in her kindergarten class."

Pass It On Day is sponsored entirely by Haenel and The Tulip Tree as a way to give members of the community a way to remember and reach out to each other. "I cover the cost myself because it's something I believe in. I think it's important these days to connect with each other - especially when there is so much that comes between us. It is important to be reminded that we have much to be thankful for. The rose is an American symbol of friendship and love, and I can't think of a better way for us to keep our first responders  and military in our hearts."

Free roses will be distributed by The Tulip Tree on Thursday, September 11 in bunches of a dozen on a first come, first served basis beginning at 7:00 a.m. and will continue until supplies are exhausted.

The Tulip Tree
5933 W. Bell Rd.
Glendale, 85308