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With spring nearing, Blossoms of Hope forges ahead to support beautification projects in Howard County

After having to cancel the majority of its events in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic — including its Pretty in Pink Ladies Champagne Luncheon and Fashion Show and the popular Power of the Purse — Blossoms of Hope’s board of directors had to find new ways to raise funds for the many organizations and beautification projects the nonprofit supports in Howard County.

“We are blessed to have an incredible bunch of people on the board,” according to Flora Betro, a Blossoms of Hope board member. “It is just phenomenal.”

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Susie Davis, a board member, came up with the idea for the Santa project after her daughter expressed disappointment that Davis’ granddaughter would not be able to visit with Santa Claus — a favorite family tradition.

“I always had a little creative flair to me,” Davis said. “It was a magical project.”

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During the first three weekends in December, Santa and an elf visited 2,500 children and 1,000 families all around Howard County as well as Carroll County. Keeping socially distant and wearing masks, Santa met families for 15 minutes outside, where children discovered if they were on the naughty or nice list.

“That was probably one of the biggest deals out of all this,” Davis said. “The parents were just as excited as the children.”

The runaway success of the Santa project had the organization, which along with beautification projects supports people and charities dealing with cancer and other issues, looking for other new ways to raise funds.

“Since we’re not able to get together indoors, we started looking at outdoor activities,” Betro said. “We came up with a scavenger hunt.”

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When Blossoms of Hope first formed in 2004, one of its main missions was to beautify the county. It did that by planting cherry blossom trees throughout the county.

“There are cherry groves throughout Howard County,” said Vera Simmons, operations and events manager of Blossoms of Hope. “We hid different items in 15 groves.”

From April 5 to May 5, anyone who purchases a scavenger tote bag will receive a map and passport book with clues to finding the groves and the hidden objects such as a garden gnome or birdhouse. Tote bags must be purchased in advance and can be picked up on March 26 and 27 at Meadowbrook Complex, 5001 Meadowbrook Lane in Ellicott City.

“Go explore as you want,” Simmons said. “Do a grove a day or more. How ever you want to do it, make it a fun day.”

Once the hidden objects are found, participants are to leave them in place and mark their book with stickers. When the hunt is completed, they are to return their books for a chance to win prizes, including gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores, as well as some of the objects that were hidden during the scavenger hunt.

“The money we make we give back to help the community,” Betro said. “We are still giving to people in need — Gilcrist Hospice, cancer and more.”

One of the nonprofit’s most successful fundraisers, the Power of the Purse, will take place, although in a new format. Instead of hosting an event where 300 to 400 people enjoy food while shopping for new or gently used donated purses, Blossoms of Hope is hosting a designer purse lottery.

Everyone who purchases a ticket will receive a three-digit number. During the month of June, if those numbers match the evening Maryland Lottery Pick 3, the ticket holder wins a purse.

“We are using different songs as themes for the purses,” said Davis, adding that sneak previews of the purses will be on social media soon.

Blossoms of Hope’s Pink Greens golf classic is scheduled for May 13 and will not include a dinner this year. Plans are still up in the air about hosting a possible Beer, Bourbon and Bags event virtually this year.

To date, Blossoms of Hope has given $550,000 to charities, Davis said. While the board is hoping that the year 2022 will see a return back to its normal events, it is doing the best it can to be creative this year.

“Things are new this year because of the world we are in,” Simmons said. “All of our events were postponed or canceled last year. We found other ways to raise funds.”

For more information about Blossoms of Hope’s events, go to blossomsofhope.org.

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