No one is checking for fingerprints and there is no handwriting analysis being conducted, but the mystery remains as to who was behind the recent spurt of beautiful bouquets arriving on certain Sun City Hilton Head doorsteps.
It is possible that the first bouquet landed on Kathe Kline’s doorstep. She posted a photo of her flowers at 4:47 p.m. on Sept. 18 on the SCHH Friendly Neighborhood Facebook page that she manages.
“Even though I don’t do most of the work – the moderators take care of that – but I sort of set the tone for the group and we’re the largest currently active Facebook group for Sun City residents. And the friendliest in my opinion,” she said. “It was the day after the Art Club and Avant Garde Club had their event. I suspect it’s somebody in that group, but I don’t know.”
There are more than 3,800 members signed up on the SCHH Friendly Neighborhood, a page that is a “friendly group for asking questions, getting advice, sharing helpful information and celebrating our Sun City Hilton Head lifestyle. We are obsessed with being friendly, courteous and helpful to our Sun City Neighbors,” according to its stated purpose.
“I’m honored that I was a recipient. I said the next day that there were little elves,” Kline said. “We have some really, really wonderful people in Sun City. And sometimes they’re overshadowed by people who complain. I want to encourage people to be kind on Facebook as well as in real life, so I am thrilled this is happening.”
A surreptitious delivery was also made Sept. 18 to Ann O’Brien Morgan’s front door. She posted a photo of her bouquet at 8:04 p.m. with the following comment: “Some little elves have been quite busy today – I hear our own admin, Ms. Diana Guenther Lackey got a bouquet as well!! Wow!! This sure perked up a rather ‘down’ day for me…. Thank you to my ANGEL, whoever you are (I have a wild guess though…)”
Morgan can be found most often on the SCHH People Pets & Plants Facebook page with photos of her bird rescue work and her Great White Pyrenees – the infamous Guinness and Bad Boy Murphy.
“I suspect it’s because of my work with the wildlife here in Sun City,” said the surprised and pleased recipient. “I rescue just about everything but mostly baby birds. I nurture them and feed them and then release them out into the wild.”
Morgan specifically handles blue birds, cardinals and titmouse, all the little birds and ones that are prevalent in the area during the spring and summer.
“I get lots of praise for that by the community and lots of donations, and I’m happy about that. It actually started about three years ago with Stars and Stripes,” Morgan said, and she wasn’t talking about either the popular overseas military newspaper or John Philip Sousa’s march. “I got a call about two baby blue birds and they had fallen out of the mailbox. I went over and just took them, googling what I should do.”
With names and a photo album to challenge any family’s camera abilities, she successfully raised them to fledges and sent them out into the world.
“It just became kind of a thing from then on, and I’ve had lots of calls. There’s no organization in South Carolina that will do anything for them,” she said.
Morgan said she was quite surprised by the flowers. “Before that I got an anonymous gift of a handmade ceramic bluebird and $50 donation for the mealworms and crickets I get for the birds,” she said.
Lackey said when she received her bouquet it was a shock.
“I’m not usually at a loss for words and this one left me speechless. I looked out on the porch and saw this gorgeous vase with all the beautiful flowers,” she said.
All of the bouquets arrived with handwritten notes. Hers read, “Thanks for all you do to make our community special. Thank you so much.”
Lackey runs the SCHH People Pets & Plants page as well as a number of others for the community.
“I was not sure of the scope of this. We’re boomerang residents. We were here in 2015, left and came back in 2020,” she said. When they moved back after a short time away, they lived on the island, then moved to Columbia, hated that, and then returned to Sun City. “Somehow, I got the pages back, so I guess you get some type of notoriety or something. I think that must be the common thread – community service,” Lackey said. “The pages work to help people. I know the note said ‘we’ appreciate, so I don’t know if this is an individual or a group, and I say ladies. I love the idea even if I had not been the recipient. Just a day brightener.”
Like the other recipients, Toni Siegfried Valenstein has no idea what prompted the surprise gift.
“The only idea I can think of is the others who got it are on Facebook, and I run several pages. And I don’t know if it has anything to do with my being in the Computer Club but I think it’s the Facebook pages. The card didn’t say anything like that, just for what you do in the community,” she said.
Valenstein runs the Sun City Friends Helping Friends and the Hilton Head & Bluffton United for Vaccinations and Covid Prevention Facebook pages.
“It was such a nice gesture, and it’s things like that that encourage people to continue doing good things for the community, and maybe get other people to do good things for the community,” she said. “We’re all volunteers. When we help somebody at the computer club and they have a smile on their face, that’s how we get paid. That’s why we keep doing these things.”
On Sept. 22, Anna Marie Tabernik, who is a Sun City Community Association resident board member, was surprised by a delivery that moved too fast for her cameras.
“I don’t really know why. I noticed on Facebook that someone was delivering them to different people, thanking them for their help, and all of a sudden one appeared at my door,” she said. “It was a wonderful gesture and highlighted my day. It was such a nice thing that it caught me off guard. I get a lot of complaints versus kudos but it was really a wonderful way to start my day.”
Tabernik said the day before the delivery had been somewhat difficult. “I had just spent a day answering some not very nice emails,” she said. “Somebody is just being very considerate and cheering people up. It was great. It lets you feel good in that moment that people appreciate what you do.”
There are reports that others have received bouquets, gift cards and other surprises that have cheered up the recipients. Perhaps the Flower Elves will deliver in the future to a doorstep near you.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.