It’s Ron Bailey’s favorite day of work, even if it means longer hours.
Starting at 7 a.m. today until supplies last, he’ll help hand out 4,000 free roses at his Blossom Basket shops in Champaign, 2522 Village Green Place, and Urbana, 1002 N. Cunningham Ave.
It’s Year 20 of Good Neighbor Day, Bailey’s goodwill creation meant to encourage compassion and help the homeless.
“We’ll do it another 20 years if there’s a demand,” he said. “There’s a much bigger need now than there was when we started 20 years ago. Our poverty rate is way too big for an influential community like Champaign-Urbana.”
At Blossom Basket as well as News-Gazette Media’s former radio headquarters in Champaign, 2301 S. Neil, Bailey and Co. will give out roses by the dozen. In return, recipients are encouraged to keep one and pass out 11 and — new this year — make a small donation to CU At Home’s “Nights of Hope” project that provides shelter for what has become a significant homeless community.
“This brings us joy,” said Bailey, 64, who worked long hours with his wife, Debbie, and five of his children (Grace, Tucker, Marty, Max and Amelia) to prepare the roses for distribution. “We appreciate giving back to the community. Like I say, I wish we could do this every day, but I’d be broke.”