Happy hues of orange and yellow radiate in the sunshine as Russell Galanti prepares to harvest his latest crop. The extension agent in ornamental crops from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) trimmed and wrapped more than 400 stalks of sunflowers he tended to at the Oʻahu Urban Garden Center before delivering them to Oʻahu hospitals.
“We hope these colorful flowers put a smile on the faces of hospital staff and patients,” said Galanti. “It’s the least we can do for these courageous people fighting a global pandemic.”
The sunflowers were planted earlier this year to make table centerpieces for CTAHR’s 32nd Annual Banquet, however, due to COVID-19, there were no more tables to decorate and no guests to bring home the arrangements as party favors. Galanti then shifted gears, and CTAHR decided to donate the sunflowers to boost morale in Oʻahu hospitals.
“Our healthcare professionals are the real heroes of Hawaiʻi,” said Galanti. “These flowers are just us trying to say Mahalo! to doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists—everyone who is showing up for work in hospitals and braving the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our community safe.”
—By Mark A. Berthold