SE: Spreading Purple Cheer

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and with her recent idea to repurpose flowers as a way to spread joy to the Manhattan community, that is exactly the mindset of K-State Athletics Communications Office Manager Mary Gorman.

After helping out with K-State Athletics’ Hall of Fame banquet in January, Gorman asked what happened to the event’s gorgeous purple flowers once everything was said and done.

Though the K-State hospitality staff tries to give away as many flowers as they can to the K-State Athletics staff, many still wind up in the garbage.

“We always have these beautiful bouquets on our tables for banquets and events,” explained Gorman. “People take what they can home or to their office, but the rest are just thrown in trash bags. After these events you can’t do much with them; you’ve already planned the whole thing and you have to get things wrapped up, so I kind of started thinking about what I could do to help.”

Gorman thought about it for a while and came up with a plan: after these events, she and her husband, Anthony, could collect the flowers and take them to local nursing homes. With K-State Athletics’ annual Powercat Auction just around the corner, Gorman decided to share her idea with Susan Shipman, K-State Senior Director of Stewardship, Hospitality and Events.

The plan to repurpose the flowers was a hit.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Shipman. “We reuse our vases over and over, so most of the time we would bring them back to the office and share on the desks of our co-workers, but I think this is even better. We never like to dispose of our flower arrangements, and now with Mary and her crew’s help we won’t have to do that again.”

After the auction’s dinner, Gorman collected all the flowers and brought them to Stoneybrook Assisted Living for others to enjoy.

The first flower delivery was a hit. With vases provided by the Gormans, each table at the assisted living facility’s dining room was dressed with the repurposed, purple and white bouquets.

“It was so cool,” Gorman said happily. “It was around their dinner time when we went in, so we put the flowers out on their dinner tables while they ate. One lady whispered to my husband, she said, ‘What’s the special event?’ and he says, ‘There’s no event, these are just special for you today.’ She just was so thrilled. Then another lady asked me if she could pick just one blossom out. I told her she could take the whole vase. ‘I get the whole thing for me?’ she asked. It was an awesome experience.”

While giving back is something the Gorman family truly enjoys, there is added purpose to this plan. A true K-Stater, she was quick to realize repurposing the flowers helps K-State Athletics stick to its mission statement as it provides value to the community, helps build K-State Athletics’ fan experience and helps the department in its goal to have integrity and transparency in matter of ethics, finance and compliance.

“This catches on multiple of our five goals,” said Gorman, who has been working at K-State for the past three years. “We want to bring value to our community, and this does that. We want to have integrity in our finances and being able to use something that we have already to encourage and bless another person, that’s a good thing. Then, of course, all these people we visit in the nursing homes or in the hospital, most of them are K-State fans. So now we’re helping them be a part of the K-State Athletics experience.”
While she chose to begin her mission with Stoneybrook as her mother currently resides there, Gorman now has plans of expanding her reach with the K-State flowers.

“My summer project is to contact all the care and hospice facilities in the area, whether it’s here in Manhattan or in Wamego, Clay Center, Leonardville and areas surrounding, and establish a relationship with them so we can bring a little brightness to their day.”

Gorman explained that in larger cities there are nonprofit organizations that offer flower repurpose services, however there is no group in Manhattan.

Until now.

“I’m going to set up a corner in my basement, my little flower unit,” she explained. “Then, as we have events, I’ll use it as an outreach from K-State Athletics. Maybe I’ll even extend it to the university as a whole and then the surrounding community.”

Gorman has big plans to grow this flower repurposing service. While she is happy to make the deliveries, she said since K-State Athletics keeps their vases to reuse, there is a shortage of vases for her flower deliveries. She is currently accepting donated vases.

If you would like to help Gorman with her mission, please contact her at:

“When you bring flowers to someone, it really brightens their day,” said Gorman who is known for bringing flowers from her own garden in to the K-State Athletics offices throughout the spring and summer. “Sometimes it really makes a difference in their lives. And for some of the elder people in our community, it really does brighten their day. The flowers from our events still have a lot of value, and I’m happy to share that.”

NOTE: Beginning on Monday, May 30, K-State Sports Extra will run three times every week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – throughout the months of June and July. The stories will begin running Monday through Friday again in August.