With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the United Samaritans Foundation has those who are still scrambling for the perfect gift covered with a monthlong fundraiser that gives them the opportunity to flood the yards of loved ones with bright red hearts.
“I think it’s a brightness in everyone’s day,” said fund development manager Courtney Fernandes. “It’s a wonderful surprise to wake up to in the morning and it’s a nice way to show friends and family members that you appreciate them.”
Fernandes said that the idea for the fundraiser originated from pink flamingo fundraisers, which give people the chance to “flamingo” their friends by “flocking” their yards with pink plastic flamingos.
“I was looking for new, different ideas to get our name out in the community,” said Fernandes. “This is basically the same concept as the flamingo fundraisers, but we decided to do something in connection to the holiday.”
Throughout the month of February, Turlockers can request to decorate the yard of a loved one, family member or friend with a sea of large red hearts for just $20. The hearts stay up for one day before they are passed to the next lucky recipient, however, some people can have the hearts for multiple days depending on the size of their donation.
“People are really happy and think it’s such a wonderful surprise,” said Fernandes. “A lot of children especially have a blast with it.”
Fernandes dedicates three hours of each day to visit the homes that are to be decorated and fill their lawns with about 20 hearts. She leaves a note on the door of the residence that explains the fundraiser and who the Valentine is from, as well as gives the recipient a chance to pass it on and make a donation themselves. Fernandes said she decorates ten yards per day in the Turlock area.
“We’ve already decorated 53 yards and we have 25 unfulfilled orders, so we’ll probably be at 100 yards by Valentine’s Day,” said Fernandes. “Hopefully we can get to 280 yards for the 28 days of February, but even if we got to 200 I would be happy.”
Fernandes said that money raised from the February fundraiser will go into USF’s general fund, which is used for repairing their daily bread food trucks, purchasing food and different day-to-day operations.
As for Valentine’s Day, Fernandes said those still looking for the perfect way to express their love can snag one of six slots that were still open as of Thursday afternoon.