CARIBOU — Florists usually say it with flowers, but one florist in Caribou is using a three-colored ribbon to show the world that northern Maine people feel the pain and care for those whose lives have been torn apart by the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.
Hundreds of people in Aroostook County are wearing small bows fashioned of yellow, purple and blue ribbon to show compassion and support for victims and survivors of the terrorist attack a week ago. “It’s just unbelievable the number of people wearing the ribbons,” said Jacqueline Doak of Caribou.
Doak and her husband, Philip, owners of Phil’s Florist and Greenhouse of Caribou, started their fund-raising effort last Friday. As of Monday night, they had collected $2,000 for the effort.
The bows — yellow, in support of the missing; blue, the state color of Oklahoma; and purple, to remember the children — are seen on people on the street, in stores and at meetings throughout Aroostook County.
Other businesses have taken on the Doaks’ idea, which has mushroomed to all corners of the County.
Jacqueline Doak has made and donated hundreds of bows since Friday. The couple is asking people to donate 50 cents for each bow, but “you would be surprised at the donations people are leaving. We had one man, who is living at the veterans home in Caribou, send us $100 for the effort. Others are dropping five- and 10-dollar bills into the box,” she said.
St. Denis Parish at Fort Fairfield did the fund raising at two weekend Masses and sent a check for $260.
“I had heard stories of wonderful people in Aroostook County. Now I know personally how they are. We all knew people in Maine were great, now they are showing it,” Doak said.
The money being collected in Aroostook is being sent to the American Floral Society, which is based just five minutes from the bombing site in Oklahoma City. In turn, th society is giving the money to the Feed the Children Foundation, which is also based in Oklahoma City.
The money will be used, said Doak, as needed for food, medical services, burials or for whatever is needed by disaster victims.
Other businesses in Aroostook County who had joined the effort Tuesday included Lorraine’s Flower Shoppe and Lisa’s Flowers in Madawaska; Jim and Jack’s Florist in Van Buren; County Floral in Limestone; Burger King, McDonalds and Creative Hairstyles in Caribou; The County Credit Union of central Aroostook County; and Ruby Tuesday, the Fashion Bug, Wal-Mart and the University of Maine in Presque Isle.
Doak stressed that every penny made in the effort goes directly to the Feed the Children Foundation. All expenses in the effort are donated by the people and businesses involved.
People making donations are also asked to leave their names. All the names will be sent with the donated money. “I am sending all the names to Oklahoma City to show how many people cared,” said Doak.
“It’s just unbelievable how people care. People come in here with tears in their eyes,” she said.
Asked why she started the effort, Doak simply said, “It’s just some little thing that seemed like a good idea to do. It’s just overwhelming. I never dreamed it would go crazy this way.”
Lorraine’s Flower Shoppe at Madawaska will take the fund-raising effort to its booth at the annual Madawaska Trade Show this weekend.
Other groups have caught the fund-raising fever. On Tuesday, the Presque Isle Fire Department raised $150 for the Oklamohma rescue operation and is challenging other fire departments around the state to top its efforts.
Bill Caron, a full-time firefighter who drives a tank truck, got up Tuesday morning with the idea that his department needed to help, and solicited support from the other drivers, volunteers and the women’s auxiliary.
“We called Cook’s Florist (in Presque Isle) and told them about the donation and asked them to make us the biggest and best bow they could,” said Caron.